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Lack of trust between doctors and patients a matter of grave concern

New Delhi: Violence against doctors and medical staff in India has been on the rise in recent years. Many doctors, paramedics, and nurses are today putting their own lives at risk in the course of duty, facing attacks from the very people they are trying to help.

Findings of a recent ongoing study by the Indian Medical Association have revealed that more than 75% of doctors in India have faced some form of violence at work.

To focus attention on this issue and to bring together all concerned stakeholders and provoke conversation with positive outcomes for curbing violence against medical professionals in India, Academy of Hospital Administration (AHA) and Indian Medical Association (IMA) jointly organized a national-level symposium on ‘Violence against Medical Professionals in India’.

The symposium, which was held on Saturday at the IMA Auditorium in New Delhi, brought together eminent medical practitioners, healthcare activists, community leaders in healthcare, senior police personnel, government officials, and administrative representatives, who shared their insights and suggestions for preventing violence against medical professionals in the country.

Talking about the growing incidence of violence against medical professionals, Prof A K Agarwal, Dean, Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR) and President, AHA said, “It is not a one off incident; cases have been reported from almost all parts of the country. Today, the lack of trust between the doctors and patients is a matter of grave concern. Lack of soft skills and humane approach on the part of medical professionals often adds to the problem. In many of the cases, it culminates in violence.”

Dr K K Aggarwal, National President, IMA, said, “We must understand that transparency is the key to maintaining credibility in the medical profession. The community of doctors, who are looked upon with much reverence, must introspect their own behaviour and accountability.”

Dr Aggarwal further said, “At the end of the day, none of us wants the society to look at our profession with a gaze of suspicion. Again, to prevent physical assaults on doctors, we immediately need to identify and pay special attention to the areas inside the hospitals which are more vulnerable, such as emergency settings and ICUs.”

Research reveals that attacks on medical professionals generally peak during visiting hours or during and after emergency medical interventions, or after the patient has undergone surgery.

An article titled ‘Violence against doctors in India’ published in The Lancet in 2014 mentioned that delays in attending patients, request of advance payments, withholding a deceased body until settlement of final billing, lack of coordination at the time of admission into hospital, and unethical practices conducted by some doctors, are among the reasons provoking relatives to lose their temper and attack doctors.

Topics discussed at the symposium included ‘Genesis of violence in hospitals’, ‘Magnitude of the problem’, ‘Hospital safety protocol formulation’, ‘Violence prevention planning’, ‘Risk analysis of violence against healthcare workers in emergency settings’, ‘Leveraging resources to manage violence in hospitals’, ‘Addressing healthcare emergencies via soft skills and communication enhancement’.

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