Doctors at LNJP hospital Delhi were attacked by a mob on January 25, 2016, adding to the never-ending list of acts of violence against doctors. The incident goes back to 25th January around 2.00 am, where a pregnant lady was brought in with respiratory distress to casualty department by around 60 people. Noticing that the patient was gasping, the resident doctors at the casualty began performing emergency Cardio Pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on her. During the treatment the agitated relatives started shouting and began fighting with the doctors and staff present there. Somehow, the doctors continued with the CPR, but could not save the patient. The mob attacked all the duty officers present there, including the junior and senior residents, nursing staff as well as the orderlies present there. The entire staff locked themselves in a room, with the exception of one nursing orderly who was brutally beaten up.
A renowned cardiologist was attacked by a mob of 50 people led by a local politician after one of the doctor’s patient died of a heart attack. To protest against the assault on the cardiologist and to demonstrate their disagreement with the mob protest, doctors across the state have gone on strike. This is one of the many incidences of violence against doctors encountered throughout the country. Who stands to benefit from this disruption in the healthcare system? Some more examples of assaults on the doctors are given below: a) A hospital in-charge was mercilessly beaten up by a mob when ambulance could not be made available to a serious patient, since it was caught in a traffic jam on the way and the patient died in the meantime b) A doctor was beaten up by a mob while the police watched, because a patient died. Even though against his advice they didn’t do a CT scan, and the relatives took the patient away. c) A doctor, who treated a journalist, post his death the doctor was harassed by the media and politicians and was suspended, only to find out the doctor had done nothing wrong, death was due to cerebral hemorrhage. d) Three doctors were beaten up with iron rods, wooden sticks and chairs by relatives of a child who died of dengue shock syndrome even after counseling the relatives of the child’s condition. Doctors suffered blunt head injuries and injuries all over his body. e). In one of the hospital the duty doctors were attacked following the death of a patient. The patient was treated for paralysis earlier, had undergone domiciliary treatment and died due to the complication of diabetes. Common factor is that the patient died despite the doctors’ care. Obviously doctors are not guarantors of life! Sadly, doctors are being taken as punching bags for every misfortune that occurs in hospitals.
In Bihar Yadav; son of an MLA and his accomplices allegedly asked the doctor to show them the attendance register of employees and when it was not shown to them, they severely beat up the doctor, hurling furniture at him. In another case in Bihar, an SHO was accused of beating up a government hospital doctor, for late arrival to unfurl national flag on Republic Day. In Chandigarh in a government hospital a patient delivered in waiting area of the hospital, which led to death of the newborn. The relatives attacked the staff working in the labour room and the case dragged on for years. That shows how shabbily the doctors are treated! But it needs to be realized that they are not gods or magician to be able to save everyone. In a recent agitation in Haryana a mob set on fire a hospital with patients and doctors inside. The doctors carried the patients on stretchers to save them, taking risk of their own life.
Maharashtra show the way
In 2010, Maharashtra government implemented Maharashtra Medicare Service Person and Medicare Service Institution (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss to Property) Act. Any act of violence against a Medicare Service Person or damage or loss to the property of hospital/clinic or any act of violence against any of the employee of hospital/clinic, such an act is prohibited. The offenders could be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years and fine of Rs 50,000. The offence could be Cognizable and Non Bailable and triable by the court of Judicial Magistrate of First class. In addition to above punishment the offender would be liable to pay compensation of twice the amount of damage or loss to the cost of property to the hospital/clinic, which if not paid the same sum shall be recovered as if it were an arrear of land revenue.
With the growing incidence of violence against doctors, the clinical fraternity is already up in arms against the administration and government for addressing their issue of security in a meaningful and convincing way. But little has been done to secure the doctors from an unruly mob or purposeful attack by goons. A section of doctors both in government and the private hospital is so distressed that they have even decided to discontinue their job and expressing their unwillingness to encourage the aspiring students for medical studies from taking up this noble profession which has fallen from its grace. In recent times, doctors have gone for numerous strikes and protests but failed to gain sufficient attention of authority regarding security issue. In course, some private hospitals have appointed bouncers to control the mob; some have strengthened their CCTV surveillance.
While the law may bring some protection to the doctors, it is the public who has to realize that healthcare cannot improve with assaults on doctors or burning of hospitals.