Amongst a recent study conducted, 75 per cent of doctors in India have faced violence at some point of time in their life. The ICU departments and the emergency wards being hit the worst. Violence is seen to be on an increasing tangent. Many doctors and their family members have lost lives too, even then the public is quick to play the blame game when lives are lost. Let’s understand why..
Lack of government support
Meager government spending on healthcare associated with the poor socio-economic status. India spends only 1.28 % of its GDP on healthcare, compared to the United States that spends by far the most on health care, equivalent to 16.9% of its GDP well above Switzerland, the next highest spending country, at 12.2%.
To add salt to the injury on an already crumbling infrastructure amidst heightened tensions a grim, biased and opaque picture is painted by most electronic and print media during the corona virus pandemic at its second wave. The healthcare sector with the employees hence become a soft target.
Increased costs in healthcare
Covid positive patients requiring long term ICU, hospital stay, the advent of mucormycosis with its unaffordable medicines have led to unexpected increasing treatment costs. With the pandemic there have been several immediate changes brought about in almost all occupations. People being ‘temporarily’ laid off from work, slashing of an unfair amount from paychecks are to name a few. Along with that a general lack of understanding about the importance of medical insurance in not only the elderly but the need to start young is lacking amidst most of us. These reasons can catch families unaware when faced with an exorbitant hospital bill, which can automatically translate to shock, resentment, anger and an outlet to the hospital staff they see on a regular basis(if patient is admitted)- the attending doctor.
Private hospitals in small towns with meagre security personnel might have to bear the brunt of attacks. The mob mentality culture with some areas harboring local goons makes the already sensitive situation extremely volatile. In a country with 19,500 languages or dialects, miscommunication is inevitable in these acutely stressful situations.
Training and Conditioning of Doctors
Most doctors are taught or subconsciously trained to be modest, polite, caring, listening and serving to the best of his or her ability. Most come from an upbringing surrounded by books and exams during schooldays followed by continuous medical school exams until their late 20s and even beyond without any self-defense training or mentality in the first place.
Junior Doctors being at the forefront
Another bothersome yet general rule during night duties is the first on call being taken by the unassuming junior doctor who are often not trained to identify triggers and taught de-escalation techniques during medical school training.
The reasons maybe many, none of them justifiable for the countless streaks of violent acts against healthcare workers particularly doctors and the young doctors amongst them. In spite of pre-existing judicial laws these violent acts continue to exist and have become blaringly obvious amidst these unprecedented times.
Author: Dr. Deepthi N. S