How Safe are the Doctors and Hospitals in the Hands of Patients’ Kith and Kin?
Even though we have seen or heard about a couple of incidents of assault on doctors and damage to hospital property that had taken place in Mangaluru/DK, but the terrible incident which took place at Global Hospitals, Lakdikapul in Hyderabad is unbelievable, and everything was a caught on camera and has gone viral. (See the incident on YouTube below). This attack on health care workers and damage of property at this hospital has triggered widespread resentment among the community of the health care professionals. Yesterday, the members of Indian Medical Association (IMA) and care givers from Global Hospital staged a dharna in front of the hospital, demanding justice. Meanwhile, the Telangana Junior Doctors Association also condemned the incident and demanded that action must also be taken under Act 11, 2008, of the state government, which deals with prohibition of violence against medicare service persons and damage to property in medicare service institutions.
According to the Global Hospital doctors, the 45-year-patient Shameen Begum was diagnosed with swine flu and also had severe lung infection, which made it a challenge for doctors to revive her. After the patient was declared dead on Monday night, her sons went uncontrollable causing damage to the furniture and targeting the staff and even the police personnel who rushed to hospital. It is learnt that on being informed of her death, angry family members attempted to attack the doctors, vandalize chairs, tables and wheelchairs at the reception as well as overturning the desk. Some even reportedly pelted stones at the glass. Security guards rushed in and the police were also called in to control the mob. It was only after the police’s arrival that the body of the woman was wheeled out.
“They have not done treatment properly and they have been asking money daily. The staff is asking for cash separately to go check on my mother. They are demanding from Rs 500 to Rs 1,000. Duty doctors are also demanding money separately and saying that they will ensure she is treated properly. It is complete medical negligence,” Ahmed, Samina Begum’s son, had told reporters who gathered. The hospital is yet to respond to these allegations. Meanwhile, the Saifabad police registered a case and while investigating the incident, have arrested the three sons and one more relative of the woman, Shameen Begum, who passed away in the hospital. The accused who have been picked up, have been identified as Mohiuddin Ali Khan, Barkat Ali Khan, Moshin and Mustafa. The police said that the hospital management filed a complaint, following which a case was registered under Sections 148 (Rioting), 324 (Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Sources reveal that however, this is not the first such case to be reported from Hyderabad. In May this year, angry over the death of a family member, a group of people chased and physically attacked a doctor in at the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Science, Hyderabad (NIMS). Last year, family members of a minor who was admitted at the Lotus hospital in Hyderabad’s Lakdi ka pul area went berserk following his death in May. The family alleged that the minor had died and the doctors had just put him on the ventilator, so they could continue charging them. However, hospital authorities refused these claims and said that the minor was brain dead, but his pulse could still be felt. Following this, the family members vandalized the hospital’s property and even allegedly manhandled some personnel. The police soon stepped in and brought the situation under control.
Speaking to Team Mangalorean Dr Shetty said, “Patients and their families should think that we are no Gods to save every ones in their diseases-we always try our best to save a person’s life, but all diseases can’t be cured. These incidents has demoralized the medical fraternity which thus has become a soft target for hooligans. We hope people who are trusted by the public to represent them introspect deeply and show remorse. These incidents if allowed to continue unchecked, can have serious repercussions on patient care in future and are sure to remove that much needed compassion and care from medical profession reducing it to just another service. It is hoped that governments take cognizance of these unpleasant developments and take remedial measures to create a better society where people/patients kith and kin are looked up to with faith and respect for solutions and not feared like criminals. We request the general public to convey our anguish and strong protest to all the authorities, and the higher-ups in the Government, to ensure Harmony is maintained “.
Dr Sachindananda Rai- President of IMA- Mangaluru also has condemned the incident, and has expressed their support, asking the government to take action against the culprits, and also provide proper security measures for the doctors and hospitals. In conclusion, Violence against doctors is on the rise all over the world. However, India has a unique problem. Meagre government spending on healthcare has resulted in poor infrastructure and human resource crunch in government hospitals. Hence, people are forced to seek private healthcare. Small and medium private healthcare establishments, which provide the bulk of healthcare services, are isolated, disorganized and vulnerable to violence. Violence against health service providers is only a manifestation of this malady. The Prevention of Violence Against Medicare Persons and Institutions Acts, which have been notified in 19 states in the past 10 years, have failed to address the issue. To prevent violence against doctors, government spending on healthcare must be increased and the Indian Penal Code should be changed to provide for a tougher penalty that could act as a deterrent to violence against doctors.