Conditions of Doctors in Government Hospitals of India
In May 2017 on a hot summer day, Dr Birender Kumar, was on duty at the casualty of Sanjay Gandhi Hospital in Delhi. It was his dream to work in a government set up.
But his dream was broken, when he along with his fellow doctors were manhandled and assaulted by family members of a patient who died because of illness.
“Medical investigations, treatment and medicines are free of cost at government hospitals in India. If we ask patient to get any kind of diagnostic test done from outside hospital, which is not available, they think that we have some vested interest. In that case, hospital administration should put a display that medical tests are not available. This can avoid incident of assault on doctors.”
This incident left Dr Kumar in depressing condition. He resigned from his job and returned to his home town in Bihar.
Dr Kumar is not alone who has suffered physical assault by patients’ attendant at government medical institutions. The list of such cases is endless.
Innumerable daily incidents of violence against doctors are reported across India. Some results in grievous injuries. Even All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the premier medical institute of the country, faces such cases of violence.
According to a study done by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), over 75 percent of doctors have faced violence at work.
Doctors who experience violence slip into depression, develop insomnia, post-traumatic stress, fear and anxiety causing absenteeism.
In India, security at workplace has always been a major concern for doctors and medical staff. There are other important issues which are the reasons of worry for doctors.
It includes Doctor- patient ratio, limitation of resources and infrastructure, erratic working hours, no proper referral system of patients and lack of vigilant security.
Narrating his horrifying experience, Dr Kumar told TheHealth, “I still remember that day when the patient was brought to the emergency of Sanjay Gandhi Hospital in a critical condition. We took the case and started medical treatment, however, the patient succumbed due to health complications. When we informed the demise of the patient, about 20-25 attendants of the deceased attacked on us. We were held hostage in the casualty. They broke my hand and this incident left me in fear and depressing condition. Then, I decided to quit my job at the hospital and came back at my hometown in Bihar.”
Dr Kumar is a pediatrician. Presently, he runs his own clinic in Samastipur, Bihar. “Atleast, my life is not at risk. Nobody is beating me. Soon, after my resignation, seven doctors left the hospital due to life threat and adverse working condition,” he said.
Dr Sumedh Sandanshiv, President of Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association (FORDA) said: “Most of the government hospitals in India lack basic healthcare facilities. And that too when hospitals are over burdened with patients. This has created a huge gap in doctor-patient ratio. It is leading to shortage of doctors in government healthcare set up. There are times, when we work for continuous 48 hours, and we get exhausted. Sometimes, it disturbs the doctor-patient relationship.”
Doctors deputed at government hospitals say that it is not so easy to work in a government set up.
The increasing incident of physical assault on doctors has created a fear in their mind. Due to which, most of the young doctors are moving to the private sector.
“In the past couple months, four doctors were brutally attacked by patients’ relative at RML hospital. We have security personals at the hospital, but I think it is not enough to manage,” said Dr Sandanshiv.
“The most important step in preventing violence at hospital is managing the entry of large number of patients’ relatives. Strengthening medical infrastructure and improving communication skills of staff at hospital will help in maintaining patient friendly environment”, said Dr Manish Nigam, General Secretary, FORDA.