In January, last year, at Maulana Azad Medical College in New Delhi, doctors who had treated a pregnant woman who died from respiratory failure were attacked by a mob, consisting of about 50 of her relatives. They threw chairs, saline bottles and equipment at them. A year ago, two doctors at Lifeline hospital in Panvel were assaulted by relatives of a 75-year-old woman who had died after receiving treatment. The relatives broke one of the doctor's nose and he had to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).
These are not one-off incidents.
According to a study conducted by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), 75% of surveyed doctors in India have suffered some form of physical violence while on duty. Almost half of these assaults were reported from ICUs.
Since 2007, 18 Indian states have passed laws protecting doctors and health-care workers from attacks. But clearly that is not enough.
So, now the government is planning to draft a central law to ensure protection of the doctors, reports Times Of India.
In 2015, following complaints from the medical fraternity, the government had set up an inter-ministerial committee to examine such issues. The panel has suggested the health ministry to initiate the process to bring a central act on the issue.
According to the ToI report, the proposed law may make any act of violence against a doctor, medical professional or hospital authority a non-bailable offence.
The problem arises also because of the abysmal doctor-patient ratio in the country. According to the National Health Profile, it is 1 to 11,500. Naturally, the doctors are overworked, often leading to delay in attending to a patient.
The report notes that the new law may also put more responsibility on the hospitals.
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