Doctors demand enactment of central act against violence
Demanding that the Union Government must enact a central act aimed at preventing violence against healthcare workers, making any act of violence against them a non-bailable and punishable offence, Dr Prem Agarawal, President of the Indian Medical Congress, urged the government to reintroduce the bill that was placed in the parliament in 2019.
The doctors said that provisions, including investigation of any act of violence Against healthcare workers, should be investigated by an officer of DSP rank or above, along with making it mandatory for police officials to register an FIR within 24 hours of receiving a complaint.
Referring to a study by the Indian Medical Association, which found that three in every four doctors live in the shadow of violence during their careers, Dr Agarwal blamed inadequate healthcare facilities and low investment in public healthcare as the major cause of dissatisfaction among the people.
Talking to Drug Today Medical Times on the sidelines of the event, Dr Agarwal further stated that failure on the part of the authorities concerned to establish a system of seamless flow of information for the relatives and attendants of patients also creates a situation of mistrust and frustrations among them, and the frontline healthcare workers including treating doctors bear the brunt of the anger.
Addressing the media, Dr Neelam Lekhi, Vice President of DMA and Chairperson Woman Doctors Welfare Association, pointed out that apart from the trend of declining tolerance in the society, the prevailing healthcare conditions in the country put both patients as well as frontline healthcare workers under tremendous stress, which often results in violence again the latter.
Demanding that a central protection act should be enacted without any further delay, she said that such an act will serve as a deterrent against perpetrators of violence against frontline healthcare workers.
Referring to the incident where a gynaecologist in Rajasthan had committed suicide recently, Dr Lekhi said that the victim tried to save the life of the patient who was already in a critical condition and was denied admission by other healthcare facilities.
“If such a situation continues to persist, it will be detrimental for the patients themselves as the doctors will try to protect themselves by asking for multiple investigations before starting treatment of the patients,” she said.
“Society needs to realise that violence is not a solution for anything,” she added.
Addressing the media, reigning Mrs Universe Artistic and infertility specialist Dr Puja Dewan said that the proposed action must protect anyone associated with healthcare services, including those practising alternative medicines and adequate provision be made for providing compensation by the perpetrators of violence.
Pointing out that violence against healthcare workers is fast becoming an epidemic that needs to be tackled on a war footing Dr Dewan said that over 75% of the doctors have been subject to the violence.
Demanding that a bill to protect healthcare establishment and healthcare workers should be an all-encompassing one, that should be brought immediately, Dr Dewan said that everyone involved in providing healthcare services, including mainstream allopathy, Ayush, dental, allied health care, paramedics, lab technicians, diagnostics workers, nurses, administrators and security persons should be brought under the purview of the healthcare workers protection bill.
"When we say clinical establish meant, we mean any hospital, any institution, nursing and maternity homes concluding those run by the government, private, corporates, trusts, pharmacy, diagnostic labs, ambulance services, all should be included," Dr Dewan said.
Addressing the media, Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti, former RDA president of AIIMS, recounted his experience serving at the front line of the healthcare system.
“The experience is terrible,” he said, “the junior doctors are abused, beaten up at the drop of a hat quite regularly, and this happens only because there is no stringent law against those committing violence against the healthcare workers.”
“The violence against doctors must stop, and for that, we need to enact stringent laws, and that only can bring a positive change in the atmosphere of society” he added.
Referring to the decrease in reported incidents of violence against healthcare workers during the peak of the COVID pandemic, Dr Bhatti said, “Government had brought a law for protecting the healthcare workers. I think such a law is the need of the hour, especially in the field of medicine where even a minute confusion or mistake can result in catastrophic results.”