Physical violence, verbal abuse, thrashing, humiliation and now an all-new dimension to the staggering forms of violence against doctors is abduction. For a profession, which experiences some form of violence almost daily as a ‘part of the job’, the recent “abduction” of a government doctor of Madhepura Sadar hospital in Bihar by the relatives of a patient has shocked the medical fraternity to the core. As if the existing forms of violence against them were not enough to deal with, an ‘innovative’ violent approach against doctors took birth in the small minds of men with huge biceps.
According to reports, on September 11 night, an ailing woman was advised to be taken to Patna for treatment when her two relatives decided to showcase their prowess in virtually lifting Dr Santosh Kumar, who was on emergency duty that night, and forcing him to accompany the patient. What was more shocking was that it took the local police three days to lodge an FIR against them, after pressure and protest from doctors mounted.
The spate of attacks and the recent abduction of a doctor make us ponder what makes the patients and their relatives resort to violence? If low literacy and low understanding of health system is to be blamed then such incidents are not unique to India. Almost everywhere in the world doctors are soft target to vent out anger and pain by patients. The problem lies somewhere else, the answer of which cannot be given by medicalising the problem.
One thing that needs special mention here is that the viciousness of spate of attacks against doctors is only fuelled by the indifference of the law enforcement agency. The thrashing of a junior doctor by a police inspector at Solapur government medical college in January is still fresh in our minds. Their slow response and sometimes total unresponsiveness is not only ethically questionable but morally and socially questionable too. A doctor’s job is to save lives, but who will save their lives?