From the Viewsroom

Protect the doctor, and patient

PT Jyothi Datta | Updated on June 16, 2019 Published on June 16, 2019

Hospitals need a grievance redress cell to defuse tensions quickly

The show of support for doctors has not stopped, as medical associations across specialisations and even from across the border (the Pakistan Medical Association) stand with the doctors protesting for a safe work environment. Unfortunately, this stand-off should never have happened. There has been an increase in reports of doctors being attacked by patient families, from across States. It has been a cauldron on simmer, waiting to boil over.

This time, doctors have a real chance at putting a lid on it. But for that, they will have to keep politics out. Many wait to fish in troubled waters, but doctors need to focus on the core, which involves the attack on them by aggrieved patient families, as witnessed at Kolkata’s NRS Medical College and Hospital.

Patients come to a hospital because they believe the doctor can restore their health. That is tremendous expectation and responsibility. Patients and their families are in a vulnerable mental state, because of the illness. So when a doctor delays in attending to them or is seen being insensitive in words or action, it worsens a bad situation.

Besides, patients may not be aware of the shortage of doctors in the country or that young doctors are overworked, often without time for food or water themselves. But that said, doctors don’t have the right to behave insensitively with a patient and a bad medical outcome does not give patient families the right to attack a doctor.

Attacking a doctor should be made a serious offence. In fact, to protect doctor and patient, hospitals need to institute a speedy grievance cell to address medical negligence allegations, have large boards listing patient rights, invest in cameras in public areas of discussion without intruding into patient privacy and staff the hospital with counsellors, health workers, etc., who engage with patient families and be that shoulder to lean on. This could help defuse the rising distrust before it erupts into an ugly flare-up.

PT Jyothi Datta Deputy Editor

Published on June 16, 2019
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