Violence against doctors alarming


Published: Feb 17, 2018

I wish it was just losing your youth, heavy work hours and little salary. But the doctor is now worried about not being killed by a patient’s kin.

Being from a family of doctors, I also enthusiastically decided to pursue the same profession. However, I increasingly sense a ringing pessimism in their voice, more so in the past decade. And so is true for a major chunk of doctors that I have come across in my career. They find themselves wondering where things went wrong even as they struggle to bring a smile on their faces.

With an extremely poor doctor to patient ratio in India (0.7/1000), the resident in a core branch like medicine or surgery has to work for an average 100-plus hours per week (the upper limit as per government for any professional is 48 hours per week) and sadly this is encouraged and advocated too. You would never allow a taxi driver to drive continuously for 24 hours, but asking surgeons to do that every third day is a routine in India. After all, why wouldn’t the government want to have workers in a contract of eight hours per day and get them to work for 14-16 hours, stating that this is how it is for all doctors? And besides, we are in the business of selfless service.

I wish it was just losing your entire youth, family life, heavy work hours and the disproportionately less salary. But the medical field is now being forced to worry about not being killed by the patient’s bystanders. The increasing incidence of violence against resident doctors is alarming. But, sadly, for the court, “if the doctors go on strike like factory men (for the violence against them), then they are unfit to be doctors.”

Well, today’s so-called modern society doesn’t mind spending 1,000 bucks on a meal, but a doctor charging 500 bucks is the biggest thief. The doctors are supposed to be selfless and healthcare a charity. Why? After all the sacrifices made by us, aren’t we entitled to a decent lifestyle? Don’t we deserve to earn a decent salary? One can choose to be selfless in many ways – donate to the needy, adopt a child etc. You can even kill innocent people sleeping on the pavement and still be called selfless as long as you have the money to donate in front of the media for a worthy cause.

But, understand one thing – ligating a pulsating blood vessel is not a service; restarting a heart is not a service; identifying the extent of tumour in the brain right down to the last millimetre while separating it, is not a service. It’s an art. It’s a specialised skill. It’s the test of your endurance because at the end of the 25th hour of straight duty, you better save that 20th patient on your OT table or everything you have done before this won’t matter. Above all, it’s a sacrifice.

We want to heal and want the satisfaction of being able to save lives, but not like this; not dictated to by the whims of businessmen and corporate hospitals that demand profits, not by the fear of being beaten up by the relatives of patients who can’t accept death as an eventuality, not while worrying about how to support our families financially and not by losing our touch with everyone who matters to us, just because a nation chooses to not strengthen its own healthcare system.

Courtesy:The Tribune


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