Medical profession, once considered divine has now become a punching bag for government, media & above all the common masses of our country. Typically loved & respected Daktar Saab is now called by all sorts of name ranging from ‘butchers’ & what not. The distrust & breakdown of doctor-patient relationship is certainly not something which has happened overnight. The relationship which was more or less solely guided by trust is now a contractual binding guided by complex laws, financial considerations & miscommunication.
Now, addressing the pressing issue of doctors’ strike in Maharashtra, at the outset, in unambiguous & absolute terms it must be made amply clear that violence, abusive behaviour, threats & intimidation have no place in any healthcare centre. Fundamental condition for any doctor to practice medicine is a fear-free environment. The doctors who work in government hospitals are underpaid & overworked professionals. A medical student who fights a hard battle to become a doctor cannot be subjected to threats, abuse & violent assaults. Spate of violent assaults on resident doctors have rocked the entire state of Maharashtra. The most brutal of them was in Dhule, where the resident orthopaedic surgeon was assaulted by patient’s relatives & he almost lost his eye. In 2010, a law was passed by Maharashtra government to ensure security of healthcare professionals with a provision of 3-year prison for any act of violence or assault on healthcare provider. At best, this act can be called as ‘Paper Tiger’. No implementation & zero convictions have occurred under this act. Hostile government attitude & insensitive remarks by the judiciary have aggravated the present crisis. Absolute security is the most fundamental condition for doctors to function. If the state fails to provide it, then doctors should not be considered liable for the ensuing circumstances.
Remarks such as “If you (doctors) do not want to work, then resign. You are not factory workers who resort to such protests. Shame on you. How can doctors behave in such a manner?” by none other than Chief Judge of Bombay HC don’t help the cause instead they aggravate the already agitated medical fraternity. For once the judiciary must be questioned for its fantastic record in pendency of cases. For once the judiciary must be questioned for its summer vacations. Justice R M Lodha, Former Chief Justice of India, tried his heart out to ensure that courts function for 365 days a year. His proposal was vehemently opposed by legal fraternity. Judiciary has its own skeletons & I’m proud of the difference between white coats & the black coats. Imagine medical fraternity asking for summer vacations?
Medical students & doctors put in the best years of their life to provide health care to the society. If fear psychosis grips doctors, as it has today, then treatment will be driven by legal & security considerations rather than medical considerations. Immediate need is to tide over the security concerns of the medical community. Medical profession has its own limitations & it has no magic wands in treatment. If society cannot accept this then probably it must consider alternative modalities of treatment. A doctor is just like any other professional who fails sometimes, who does well sometimes & who is a normal human being. Don’t force doctors to wear black coats & black helmets.
Every profession has its ills, which we duly accept. Same is the case with medical profession. But violence has no place in any profession & definitely not medical profession. And to answer Hon. Judges of Bombay HC. “YES SIR, WE ARE FACTORY WORKERS. OUR FACTORY IS CALLED HOSPITAL & WE REPAIR BROKEN HUMAN BODIES. OUR LIFE IS DEARER TO US THAN OUR JOB, JUST LIKE ANY OTHER FACTORY WORKER.”
Bhaumik J. Kamdar
Final MBBS Student,
- J. Somaiya Medical College & Research Centre,