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Violence Against Doctors In India:Who Are The Real Culprits?

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Docashp has been an intensivist for the past ten years. His areas of interest include hemodyamics and antibiotic stewardship.

A professional hazard

Is your doctor a punching bag for you?

Whenever a seriously ill patient is brought to a hospital emergency in a critical condition and a loss of life takes place it is seen as a "wrong doing" for which some one is to be immediately punished. The treating doctor becomes a convenient punching bag for the mob of "well wishers" to vent out their frustration. These incidents of physical assault on doctors and healthcare workers have now reached epidemic proportions.The workplace violence statistics in healthcare does not represent the workplace violence in healthcare correctly as incidents of verbal abuse in healthcare by relatives or doctors and nurses being abused by patients are never reported. Only those incidents where workplace violence in hospitals causes grievous bodily harm or threat to life are reported.

Such incidents usually follow a strike from the doctors and a typical knee jerk reaction from the media crying hoarse over a lack of empathy on the part of doctors. The fact that a doctor or a healthcare worker was assaulted at work by a patient or his relatives is completely overlooked.

In due course of time with assurances of better security arrangements and strict action against the culprits the whole incident fades away until it chooses to repeat itself at a different place and time and almost appears to be the sequel of the previous one.


Is such violence is a reflection of reduced tolerance in the society overall (remember people shooting each other over a parking spot) or :

Is it a failure of the system to deliver adequate level of health care to its people?

Is it a failure of successive governments in both framing and implementing a adequate health care policy for its citizens ?

A failure of the whole system for which an individual is punished in these unfortunate incidents with amazing regularity

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Politicians, media personnels and now even movie stars help to build up a false perception that a "doctor on duty" is responsible for all the agony faced by the patient. So an individual who is not even a cog in the big wheel for the simple reason that he never was and perhaps never will be a part of policy making is held responsible for its failure and has to risk his limb and life for it at his work place.

Media builds up a perception and passes its own judgement on complex medical issues though "debate TV" which proves to be nothing more than a show of lung power on prime time. It almost always fails to address the real issues probably because it does not serve their TRP ratings. A false perception is being created and perpetuated because in a democracy like India perception is everything. You are only as good bad, corrupt righteous as you are perceived to be. The truth unfortunately no longer matters to people any more. What we see is almost always filtered though the lens of a biased media.

Nobody wants to explore in depth as to the root cause of the problem behind such attacks. No one in the government ever acknowledges the fact that health has never been a priority on government agenda.

The real issues like having a very poor health infrastructure, a bad doctor to patient ratio, failure of the government to stop quacks from practising, nepotism and VIP culture during bed allocation to critically ill patients, the mushrooming and licencing of medical and paramedical institutes with little emphasis on the quality of education and training delivered, a very absurd system of reservation which keeps caste over merit are to be addressed.

Using your doctor as a punching bag every now and then just wont help you feel healthier.


Your opinion


Hashp (author) from india on November 18, 2017:

I agree Nasir, media has a lot of power but the sense of responsibility which comes with any form of power is missing.

Hashp (author) from india on July 19, 2017:

Hey Nell,

Thanks for your comment.

A good working environment is essential for both doctors and paramedical staff so that they are able to do their best to help the patients.

Nell Rose from England on July 19, 2017:

It just makes me so mad when people attack doctors and hospital staff! I would just throw them out without help if I was a nurse! great points here!

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