Are we forgetting that doctors are also Human?
It is a well known fact that resident doctors are the backbone of any government hospital in India. But, if the backbone of any system is stretched beyond its threshold, it will break.
For decades now, resident doctors have put almost inhuman hours of work while serving the patients selflessly. The Honourable Supreme Court of India in its order dated 25/9/87 asked for the implementation of an uniform central residency scheme throughout the country.In 1992 the scheme came into existence and said the following “The maximum working hours for a junior resident doctor should be 48 hours/ week and no doctor should work more than 12 hours/ stretch at a time” But nowhere in the medical system across the country, this is seen.
What is the present scenario?
- Resident doctors put upto 120 hours of work/week.
- At a stretch, duties extend for about 36 hours.
As a psychiatrist, it is my duty to point out what are the medical implications of such harsh amounts of work.
- After 18 hours of work, doctors have got equivalent psychomotor dysfunction as having a blood alcohol level of 0.05. Ironically at this level of 0.05, where one is not allowed to drive under law, doctors are expected to look after patients.
- After 24 hours of work, doctors have equivalent of having a blood-alcohol level of 0.1. This is equivalent of Alcohol Intoxication. This simply means that after 24 hours of continuous duty, the brain functioning of any doctor is similar to that of a drunk. Knowing this simple medical fact, how can the government expect us to work like this, if not for our benefit but also for that of the patient?
This system has led to enormous implications, not just for us but also for the patients we treat.
- With such enormous amount of overwork it is impossible to counsel the patients relatives, which has resulted in the tremendous increase in resident doctors getting assaulted.
- The likelihood of committing a error in diagnosis increases almost 5 times. The resulting medical negligence case has to be dealt with by him for no fault of his own.
- Due to extreme stress, poor working conditions, the doctors have lowered immunity and themselves get deadly life-threatening diseases like T.B.
- Recent study shows that approximately 1 in 7 doctors have contemplated committing suicide in these secondary to inhuman conditions
What Should be done?
The hon’ble supreme court, in all its knowledge had indeed laid down the Uniform central residency scheme stipulating the right number of hours that a doctor is expected to work. But somewhere along the system, the guidelines of the court have been lost. Its important that we must unite together to implement the guidelines of the court, and demand for something thats rightfully ours. Together as MARD, we have taken the following initiatives.
- An RTI has been filed by M.A.R.D. asking for steps taken for implementing the Central Residency scheme showing that no measures have been taken for same in 22 years.
- MARD has already approached the Human Rights Commission for the same.
- MARD will be filing a WRIT PETITION against the state in the Court of Law, demanding that we must be given our basic rights.
I urge all the doctors across the country to unite together and raise our voice.
THE TIME TO BEG FOR YOUR RIGHTS HAS GONE. ITS TIME TO FIGHT FOR THEM!!!