Doctors in India at breaking point, courtesy continuing attacks: Lancet report


Anupam Srivastava    05 April 2018

Nearly 75% doctors in India have faced either verbal or physical violence during their lifetime, says a report of ‘The Lancet’—one of the oldest medical journals in the world—quoting the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

The medical journal has pointed out that most of the cases of violence are due to patients’ death, inflated bills and sometimes behaviour of the doctors. The solution is that the government should regulate private health sector strictly and upgrade facilities in government hospitals.

“According to the report, the health workers (doctors) in India have reached a breaking point in the wake of continuous physical attacks on them,” says Dr PK Gupta, spokesperson for the IMA, Lucknow Chapter.

“It’s not a matter of pride for India that Lancet picked up such a scene of India’s health sector. Perhaps that is the reason why most of the young doctors are not interested in serving government hospitals. Junior doctors are more exposed to violence for they are the first responders. May be they are inexperienced in handling the patients’ relatives,” adds Dr Gupta.

“The Lancet report highlights the fact that funding of public health care has declined and passive privatisation has been encouraged this has caused stress on pockets of common man leading to brawls,” says senior IMA member Dr Aleem Siddiqui.

He adds that it is important that the government begins spending more on public health care and regulate the private services. The 2017 Lancet report says that exorbitant medical bills often make the conflict between the patients’ kin and the hospital authorities inevitable.

“The situation is so grave that West Bengal has even decided to make medical practitioners undergo martial arts training to fend off attacks,” says Dr Siddiqui.

“The doctors are soft target and so there are repeated attacks on them. Sometimes being under stress, some doctors misbehave with patients’ relatives but this does not justify violence against them. After violence, doctors often go on strike demanding a better security cover. However it is not good either and that’s why the situation in the country’s health sector is worrying,” says Dr Gupta.

“Many hospitals like the KGMU have deployed security guards, police and bouncers to protect doctors on duty. This shows that there is a trust deficit between the patients and doctors because of inadequate health infrastructure,” says IMA member Dr Pranjal Agarwal.

“Lancet is one of the most reputed journals in the world and if that journal is highlighting some issue, then everyone must consider it seriously,” says professor Rakesh Kapoor, director, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow.

The Lancet report also cited a 2016 study which said over 40 per cent of resident doctors in a tertiary care hospital in New Delhi faced violence at work in the last one year.

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