Attack by MP adds to nervousness of doctors

Talking point: Some cities hire bouncers to protect doctors, but B'luru isn't that paranoid yet

Attack by MP adds to nervousness of doctors

Uttara Kannada MP Ananth Kumar Hegde’s assault on doctors in Sirsi has brought the focus back on the vulnerability of medical personnel.

On Tuesday, Hegde thrashed two doctors and a hospital staffer, angry that his mother had been made to wait for the treatment of a fracture.

Doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and even security guards fear assaults by relatives of patients in case of an unfavourable treatment outcome.

Tall, muscular men walking around hospital corridors is not an uncommon sight in Mumbai, New Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai.

Fed up of the constant attacks they come under, hospitals there are hiring bouncers. They are not meant to intimidate patients but to protect doctors from physical harm. “It is a costly affair, so in Maharashtra five to seven hospitals form a group and hire bouncers. When there is an alert from a hospitals, they rush there,” a city doctor said. The practice is not followed in Bengaluru yet.

At heart institute
“People barge into ICUs and when the guard tries to stop them, they attack him,” said Dr  C N Manjunath, director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research. Patients have unrealistic expectations from doctors, he reckons. “Doctors are easily accessible, unlike government officials. So when something goes wrong, people immediately vent their anger on them,” said Dr Veeranna, general secretary of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Karnataka chapter. If the family believes doctors have been negligent, they should take legal recourse and complain to the authorities. Why beat them up, he wondered.

“Most hospitals have security guards but they stand at the entrance. If people attack the doctor in his consultation room, he has no protection,” said Dr Rajashekar S Bellary, president of IMA, Karnataka. At Jayadeva Hospital, attacks were so frequent that female doctors refused to work on the night shift.

To tackle this, the hospital appointed a gunman and stationed him in the Outpatient Department (OPD) during the day and the casualty ward at night.

But not all hospitals can afford to hire gunmen and extra security guards, Dr Bellary said.

Rural service
Frequent attacks on doctors is one reason why many are reluctant to work in taluk and district hospitals, said Dr Manjunath.

“Such incidents are demoralising. If this goes on, common people will suffer because doctors will be scared to take up emergency cases, fearing harm,” he said.
 

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