Violence Against Doctors

“Hands that heal, should not bleed.’

2021 has brought with it a second wave of Covid-19 in India. People with underlying comorbidities are especially at risk, and stringent lockdown rules have been put in place in all high risk areas. The healthcare infrastructure has been crumbling under the critical load of patients, and hotels and auditoriums have been converted into isolation areas and vaccination centers.

Throughout all this, doctors have been working tirelessly day and night to save the people of India. Doctors have put themselves at risk to look after critical patients and make sure every human being has an equal and fair chance at survival. And this is what some people of India do. Attack the very healthcare professionals that are trying to save them.

A recent incident in Assam shook the entire medical fraternity.  A doctor at a coronavirus facility in Assam’s Hojai, around 140 kms from Guwahati, was mercilessly punched, kicked, and pounded with metal trash cans and bricks, by the relatives of a Covid patient who had died, allegedly due to oxygen shortage. Locals also assaulted the doctor who is now hospitalized but stable.

In another incident in India, a 50 year old doctor was attacked by four people following the death of his 6 year old dengue patient. In Mumbai, a female resident doctor attached to KEM was allegedly abused by the kin of the patient after the 18 year old died due to cardiac arrest in the hospital.

The very profession that has helped India rise from the shadows of the pandemic, is now in a very dark place. The Indian Medical Association has reported that 75% of doctors face verbal or physical abuse in hospital premises and fear of violence was the most common stress factor in 43% of the doctors.  Highest number of violence cases were reported in emergency care and 70% of the acts were initiated by the patient’s relatives. In the last 5 years, around 670 cases have been registered across the country pertaining to violence against doctors.

Imagine. After 5 years of studying, 3 years of specialization and 3 more years of super specializations, After countless of nights of studying and putting in their blood, sweat and tears, doctors go back home after being beaten up in the hospital or being mentally or verbally abused or threatened. No human being, let alone a doctor should go through anything of this sort. There are so many things that can be done to prevent this and we need to start acting now.

Security. Changing the behavior and mentality of those harming doctors will take a long time. Meanwhile, this is one of the first measures that the state or district should implement. Unfortunately, we have come to the stage where healthcare professionals feel safe and are safe only when there is proper security in place in hospitals and care centers.

Did you know that only 1.5% of the total GDP (Gross Domestic Product) goes into the healthcare sector of our country. If there is not enough money to buy medical equipment, build better infrastructure and increase the number of beds in the hospital, how will the doctors be able to treat the patient?

Media and the stereotype made my people about doctors. In many interviews across states, people have described doctors as ‘looters’ or people who just want to gain money. We need to understand one thing. Only those people enter the medical field who are compassionate, considerate, hardworking and have an inner passion for helping people. ‘Minting money’ is a general term associated with doctors in movies, plays and in short, the media. This needs to change as soon as possible.

Imagine, everyday, all medical students of this country wake up to such headlines in the newspaper. That their future profession is being painted red by the very people they want to serve. What does this do to their mental state? Doctors are being beaten up, attacked with chairs and medical equipment. Is this some kind of joke?

There were times when medical profession was considered to be noble. People respected doctors and had faith in them. But when doctors started being proclaimed as God, that’s when the line was crossed. That’s when people started thinking, doctors can cure us of any ailment.  We need to create awareness about the current incidents happening in the country, and we need change, as soon as possible.