- Various doctors’ associations in the country led by Indian Medical Association (IMA) have demanded the union government to frame a union law to check violence against health care workers in hospitals.
- India is witnessing a nation-wide protest from doctors in the aftermath of an incidence of violence against a junior doctor in a Medical College hospital in Kolkata.
- The crisis has spiraled with doctors across the country demanding a law for security of the doctors and other healthcare professionals.
- The Indian Medical Association, in a show of solidarity to the agitating doctors, has declared a nation-wide strike of doctors 17 June.
In focus: Security of healthcare professional in India
- The recent attack on a junior doctor in a hospital in Kolkata has triggered the issue of security and safe working conditions for healthcare professionals in India.
- There is a spike in the number of cases of violence against doctors in India of late.
Key findings: IMA report on violence against doctors
- More than 75% of doctors across the country have faced at least some form of violence.
- About 50% of violence is faced by doctors who provide emergency services, ICUs and after a surgery.
- About 70% of the violence is committed by the relatives and attendants of patients.
- Different forms of violence the doctors face include
- Physical assault
- Verbal abuse
- Threat of violence
Impact: Poor working conditions
- According to a survey, more than 80% of the doctors in the country feel stressed out in their profession. Half of the cases are because of threat of violence.
- This has deleterious effect on the healthcare services of the country with the custodians of healthcare in India witnessing an all-time high of physical, mental and emotional assault increasing the anxiety levels in healthcare professionals in India.
Reasons for spike in violence
- Distress of the attendant upon failure of treatment
- Poor infrastructure and lack of quality healthcare
- Increased costs of treatments (incidents are high especially in cases of deaths)
- Demand for time-bound clearing of bills
- Mistrust between doctors and patients in general
- Human resource crunch in public hospitals
- Low spending on health
- Lack of sensitivity training among doctors
- No separation of medical and administrative functions
States’ Medical Protection Act: A failure
- Health, being a state subject, 19 States in India have enacted the Prevention of Violence against Medicare Persons and Medicare Institutions Acts.
- The Medical Protection Act, being enacted by the states including West Bengal provides for 3 year jail term and Rs 50,000/ fine for attack on doctors.
- However, the act has not been implemented owing to lack of uniformity among states.
- As a result, time and again there have been demands to enact a Doctor Protection Act at the union level to ensure uniformity.
- IMA has again urged in the backdrop of recent violence to frame a doctors’ protection act to make violence against doctors a non-bailable offence.
Other steps to curb violence
- Stringent punishment under the Prevention of Violence against Medicare Persons and Medicare Institutions Acts conferring 7 years of imprisonment for attack on doctors, may act a deterrent.
- A Central law for prevention of violence against healthcare persons and institutions.
- Better implementation and awareness of Medical Negligence acts so that the patients can make use of it instead of violence.
- Standard protocols with the cardinal principle of ‘Do not Overreach’ in treatments and procedures.
- Better communication and ensuring consent in cases of treatments.
- Better enforcement on Charter of Patient Rights.
- Separation of administrative and medical personnel.