Incidents of violence against doctors and other medical staff in India have been on the rise.
This is not prevalent in India only, but doctors in neighboring countries such as China, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are equally concerned about their safety at the workplace.
The problem is worse in government hospitals, which lack appropriate security arrangements. During night hours, it is often the medical officer who plays the role of the doctor as well as that of the security guard. There is no established protocol for tackling violence.
Even a delay in attending to a patient can make his or her attendants go berserk. Since most patients lack health insurance, sometimes the diagnosis comes as a financial disaster and shocks them into an emotional turmoil, resulting in anger towards the hospital staff.
The highest number of violent incidents (close to 50%) occurs in the ICU and almost 70% are caused by relatives of patients.
There have been several attacks on the doctors in the recent years.
Dr. Rohit Tated, a resident doctor at Sion Hospital, Mumbai, who after clocking 36 hours of duty was assaulted by the kin of patient who died. The doctor went into a state of trauma following the attack.
Earlier this year, on March 11, a resident doctor of DY Patil Hospital was brutally assaulted using a scalpel by the relatives of a patient in Pune.
The next day itself, a doctor in Maharashtra’s Dhule district was severely assaulted and now suffers from vision loss. Over a period of two weeks, five doctors in Maharashtra were attacked.
On April 11, in Mumbai, a patient reportedly in an inebriated state slashed a KEM Hospital resident doctor on the forearm while the latter was stuttering his wound.
A similar case in Uttarpara, Kolkata, took place where a doctor was assaulted at a nursing home.
There exist no laws for the protection and safety of the medical community. While it is a non-bailable offense to assault a uniformed public servant like a bus driver or a policeman, there is no distinct penalty for hitting an on-duty physician in a white coat.
Such acts of violence go unpunished as in most of the cases, the incident ends up in a compromise between the two parties, which encourages the occurrence of such incidents.
Medical students and interns, who have just started with their careers, too have to think twice before going to hospitals.