Author: Dr. Rohini R
Dealing with violence against doctors in India is very different from dealing with violence anywhere else.
No Fear of the Law in India:
Firstly the law is on our side. Violence against doctors is a non-bailable offence. Every time an incidence of violence has happened, the criminals have been arrested. However people continue to attack doctors because there is somehow no fear of law in India or do people hate doctors that much that they are okay going to jail? The hospital system is not going to change overnight, it may not even change over the next couple of years.
Hospitals will not provide security, let’s get real:
Just because doctors want better security, the hospital is not going to provide it. The kind of security guards that the hospital provides are completely useless. They are old, frail men who are 50/60/ 70 years old . They cannot manage an act of violence that is happening. In fact their wages are so low, they will run if they feel their life is in danger. They are not going to come to your rescue. If he loses his life, he’s just a security guard. His family is not going to be taken care of. He’s not from the Army where the family will get a pension. But the hospital is not going to provide trained, armed security guards anytime soon because their salary would be three times that of a junior doctor – it makes zero business sense.
Indians Believe Doctors are Supposed to be Social Workers:
The next issue is that we work in India and our patients have been raised here. Indians believe that medicine is a social service. But they haven’t realised that doctors invest time and money in getting an education. Patients do not realise that doctors have to pay their own bills, taxes and we do not get any benefits, not even free healthcare. Doctors are tried in the consumer court. How does all this make a doctor a social worker? Patients do not realise that nothing of what they pay goes to the doctor. In fact doctors themselves cannot afford healthcare in the hospitals they work at and many get admitted in government hospitals. Hospital infrastructure is not going to change in the near future.
Health insurance, taxes, lack of willingness to spend on healthcare:
All over the world health care is charged for. Directly or indirectly. They Either pay through taxes or there are compulsory Medisave deductions from your salary. In many countries, patients do have to pay an additional amount above this. And in the West, people take health insurance. In India and the West most companies do provide health insurance. All over the world people are willing to spend on healthcare but Indians are not because they believe for some reason it is a social service. However, they also do not want to go to government hospitals because they are not satisfied with the infrastructure, despite doctors Willing to go to government hospital for treatment.
Violence is the norm and justified in india, whether it is at home, school, towards animals and just about anywhere. In Indian culture it is OK to hit.
In India people think it is okay to hit if you are angry. It is almost part of the culture and inculcate in them. For example, it is okay to hit your child if you are angry, it is okay to hit your wife if you’re angry. If a wife gets hit her family tells her to adjust and take it. In the West the hitting culture is completely frowned upon. Majority of parents do not hit kids. In fact parents apologise to children if they hit in a fit of rage. Of course there are incidents of child abuse there as well, but it is very less and nobody supports it. In India if a parent is beating a child because he didn’t get the right marks or because he was caught with his girlfriend, society will never see anything about it. In fact they will justify saying that he deserved to get hit. Majority of families in the west do not have domestic violence. If a woman gets hit in the West by her husband, her family and society do not tell her it is okay, where as in India they would. In most schools it is okay for teachers to hit the children except in very hi-fi private schools. People have been raised with the idea that violence is okay and there are no consequences. It is okay to hit someone who makes you angry. So the same habit is carried forward when it comes to a doctor. For him you are not special just because you are not a doctor. You have made him angry and he has been raised in a in a way where if you are made angry you can hit. If his child makes an angry, and he will hit. If his wife makes him angry, he was hit. If somebody at his work or business makes him her angry, he will hit. So if a doctor makes someone angry, it is obviously okay to hit – because those are the values many people in India have been raised with.
What is the solution?
Nothing is going to change in the near future, meanwhile, the only things that can be done Are things that we can change ourselves. So it ultimately comes down to the doctors trying to prevent violence against themselves and learn how to protect themselves during an act of violence. Because patients can get violent at any time, they will use anything around them to hit you and at that point it is completely up to you to survive.