VIOLENCE AGAINST MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS: CAUSES AND SOLUTIONS

Sanchita Bera

Introduction:

Violence against medical professionals has become a global phenomenon, but somehow India has moved a step forward in this very phenomenon by leading the most number of incidents of violence. According to the Indian Medical Association (IMA), as much as 75% of medical professionals have face physical or verbal violence during their lifetime as medical professionals[1]. Another study of IMA shows that about 82.7% of the medical professionals in India are stressed out due to the fear of violence[2]. This situation shows us the scenario of an uncivilized society because those who are considered to be the lifesavers of the human reign have no protection for themselves against assaults. What if they raise their hands and walk away as a protest against the violence? The common public will have no ne to heal their illnesses. The medical professionals’ contributions during these ongoing pandemic conditions have proved their worth of being worshiped by all. IMA says that close to 734 doctors have lost their lives due to Covid-19 in the country[3]. Steps must be taken not only by the Government but also by each member of the society in inculcating civilized behavior towards the Medical professionals.

Timeline of Incidents of Violence against Medical professionals:

  1. 14th March 2021: A specialist at the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) of the Aster CMI Hospital in Hebbal, Bangalore was allegedly slapped and threatened by the kin of a three-year-old patient.
  2. 12th February 2021: A Urologist of a private hospital in Harni, Vadodara, Gujarat was abused and then physically assaulted by the attendants of a seventy-year-old patient.
  3. 28th December 2020: The doctor’s family was allegedly manhandled by the relatives of a patient at the doctor’s clinic in Noida, New Delhi.
  4. 30th October 2020: The kin of the patient who passed away during treatment ransacked and damaged equipment of the facility of NMMC Hospital in Vashi, Mumbai.


Factors that apprehend Violence Against medical professionals:

  • According to the medical professionals, the following are the factors that cause violence against them[4]:
  • Overcrowding (63.8% of them said that overcrowding in the hospitals was the main reason behind the agitated behavior of the patients or their kin).
  • Long wait for appointments and medical tests (37.9% of them said that long wait for appointments and medical tests was the second most voted reason behind the agitated behavior of the patients or their kin).
  • Delay inpatient care and lack of soft skills (32.8% of them said that delay in patient care and lack of soft skills were the other reasons behind the agitated behavior of the patients or their kin).
  • According to the patients, the following are the factors that cause violence against medical professionals[5]:
  • Overcrowding (36.4% of the patients have faced the problem of overcrowding)
  • Long wait beyond their appointment time (41.8% of the patients have sometimes faced the problem of long wait beyond their appointment time)
  • 58.2% of the patients have waited for half-n-hour, 20% for one hour, and 10.9% for more than two hours beyond their appointment time.
  • Arrogant and harsh behavior (34.5% of the patients have sometimes faced while 7.3% have always faced arrogant and harsh behavior during their visit to the hospital)

The types of security measures provided in the hospitals to curb incidents of violence against medical professionals:

  • According to the medical professionals, the following security features have been provided by their hospitals:
  • Security staff (65.5% said that they have only security staff as a security measure)
  • Electronic surveillance (43.1% said that they have only Electronic surveillance as a security measure)
  • Physical security (22.4% said that they have only physical security as a security measure)
  • When a question regarding the hospital providing additional security arrangements for those medical professionals who have been victims of violence in the hospital was asked 55.2% of them have said that there were no such arrangements made for them by their respective hospital.
  • When a question regarding whether their hospital has a process/method to identify the patients or their kin with a history of violence was asked to the medical professionals 50% of them have said that they have no such process/method.

Awareness regarding the reporting procedures:

  • When a question regarding their knowledge about the State legislation i.e., Gujarat Medicare Service Persons and Medicare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss of Property) Act, 2012 was asked to the medical professionals 53.5% of them said that they were not aware of the legislation.
  • When a question regarding their awareness about the reporting procedures provided under the Rules of the same State Legislation was asked, 55.2% of them have said that they are not aware.

Indian Legislations to protect the medical professionals against incidents of violence:

  1. The Healthcare Service Personnel and Clinical Establishment (Prohibition of Violence and Damage to the Property), Bill 2019. This Bill has been long pending for consideration before the Parliament for enactment.
  2. Every other state has its legislation preventing violence against medical professionals (Medicare Service Persons) and damage or loss to the property of hospitals (Medicare Service Institutions). For example, in the state of Gujarat, there is Gujarat Medicare Service Persons and Medicare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss of Property) Act, 2012, in the state of Maharashtra they have Maharashtra Medicare Service Persons and Medicare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss of Property) Act, 2010, etc.

 Conclusion:

A lot is going on in the backdrop of all these incidents of violence against medical professionals. Firstly, from the above data two things are very clear. One that the factors which apprehend the agitation amongst the kin of the patients are overcrowding, long wait for appointments and a medical test, delay in patient care and lack of soft skills. Looking into these factors gives the idea that the patients are not solely responsible behind their uncivilized behavior towards the medical professionals. The medical professionals are also partly responsible for the same. Secondly, the absence of proper security measures to protect the medical staff in their respective hospitals are also responsible for the growing trends of violence. Thirdly, there lacks a Central Act ‘The Healthcare Service Personnel & Clinical Establishments (Prohibition of Violence and Damage To Property) Bill, 2019′, which would have given a boost in protecting the medical professionals and preventing violence against them, by enacting the same rules and regulations across the country equally, instead of different State Acts. Fourthly, the medical professionals are unaware of the State Legislations and Rules which provide reporting procedures and other safeguards against violence. Lastly, the present State Acts have no proper definitions of ‘Physical violence’, ‘Verbal abuse’, ‘Bullying’, and ‘Mobbing’. Also the State Acts have no rules prescribing standards that recognize specific security measures. We require both the Mmedical professionals and the kin of the patients to maintain healthy relation and cooperation to avoid the incidents of violence and the hospitals must take up measures to curb the factors which apprehend violence.


[1] Kanjaksha Ghosh, “Violence against doctors: a wake-up call” 148(2) IJMR 130-133(2018)

[2] Bindu Shajan Perappadan, “Majority of Doctors in India fear violence, says IMA survey”, The Hindu, July 02, 2017

[3] Ch Sushil Rao, “734 not 162 doctors lost their lives due to Covid-19 in India: IMA”, The Times of India, February 04, 2021

[4] A research was conducted by the author within the demarcated boundary of Vadodara, Gujarat, and the surrounding districts. The data above is purely Non-doctrinal in nature and has not been copied by the author.

[5] A research was conducted by the author within the demarcated boundary of Vadodara, Gujarat, and the surrounding districts. The data above is purely Non-doctrinal in nature and has not been copied by the author.

This article is authored by Sanchita Bera, pursuing Masters in Law at The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. She is currently working as a Contributing Author at TBL.

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