Assaults on doctors continue in India government hospitals

Striking health workers accuse government of keeping mum, not taking any urgent steps

Gulf News

Mumbai: Medical professionals are fearing for their safety in Maharashtra, after three brutal attacks in the last two days on resident doctors at public hospitals — by relatives of patients who had died or whose treatment had allegedly been delayed.

Hundreds of doctors are on strike and demanding that the state government ramps up security measures, including increasing the number of armed guards at every hospital.

As of Monday, resident doctors at all the government and civic hospitals across Maharashtra as well as Mumbai, including some of the large hospitals like KEM, Sion Hospital and Wadia Children and Maternity Hospitals, had joined the protests.

However, Dr Sagar Kulat, a second year resident doctor at KEM, told Gulf News that the absence of resident doctors will certainly hamper the functioning of these hospitals, but not paralyse the overall work, as there are specialists, faculty members and others to handle emergencies.

An assault on a doctor at the Wadia Hospitals for Women and Children on March 18 came to light only on Monday since doctors there wanted to join the strike to get their security situation addressed.

“The incident related to a pregnant woman from Ambernath who was in labour and had first gone to JJ Hospital, which sent her to Wadia on the assurance there would be a bed as well as a neonatal intensive care unit. However, by the time she arrived at 6.30am, the vacant beds were taken over by other patients and as a result the patient’s relatives attacked the doctor and also abused the female staff,” Kulat said.

Public hospitals, he said, don’t reserve beds for patients until they arrive but them on a first-served basis.

The patient, however, was attended to and is fine.

On Sunday night, an intern at the Government Medical College, Aurangabad, was attacked by a patient’s relatives when he intervened to save a resident doctor from being manhandled, said Yashowardhan Kabra, president of the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD). The relatives entered the operation theatre, pulled the doctor out and started battering him when the intern intervened.

Here in Mumbai, too, a handicapped doctor from Sion Hospital was slapped and pushed to the ground Saturday when he informed the relatives of a 60-year-old woman, Rekha Ghavari, suffering from chronic kidney disease, that she had passed away.

Dr Rohit Kumar Tated, a first year postgraduate student of medicine, bore the brunt of this attack even though the doctors had explained to the family of the deceased’s condition.

As an organisation, MARD cannot declare a strike following a public interest litigation filed by a social activist against them to stop them from going on strikes.

Therefore, “we have taken a legal decision not to declare a strick. But, several resident doctors are individually protesting to tell the government how unsafe they feel in the present environment,” said Kabra.

“Doctors slog it out for 24-36 hours in hospitals and these attacks are making them psychologically anxious about their security. It is time the government stepped in,” he said.

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