02/03/2020 10:33 PM IST

Delhi Riots: Doctor Called Riot Victim 'Extremist', 'Terrorist' During Treatment, Says Report

Public healthcare inflicted secondary trauma on victims of the riots due to lapses in providing timely and good quality treatment, says a Jana Swasthya Abhiyaan report.

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GTB hospital in a file photo. Most number of fatalities during the riots were recorded in this hospital. 

NEW DELHI—At least one doctor in the Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital made communal remarks against a Delhi riot victim by referring to the person as “ugravadi” (militants/extremists) and “atankvadi” (terrorists) during treatment. Another doctor in the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan hospital (LNJP) asked the victim the full form of NRC and CAA, while yet another doctor in the same hospital accused another patient  of indulging in violence. 

These are some of the most shocking claims made in a report released by the public health advocacy group Jan Swasthya Abhiyaan (JSA) on Monday afternoon. The claims in the report are based on information accessed by volunteers from the group who were working on the ground with patients in two Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government hospitals and elsewhere from 25 February till 1 March.. 

“Patients and volunteers both reported that injured persons (are) being called “ugravadi” and “atankvadi” by doctors,” notes the report, released on Monday. HuffPost India has not been able to independently corroborate the claims because volunteers who worked with the families of the victims said the latter refused to speak with reporters. 

In an interview, Inayat Kakkar of the JSA revealed the names of the government hospitals where these incidents reportedly occurred. In the third instance, according to the report, the doctor from LNJP hospital purportedly told the patient during treatment, “What will you do if we treat you? You will go back on the streets and be violent.”

A response from the hospitals was not immediately available. This report will be updated when they respond.

“Far from providing healing from the trauma that victims have faced, we have found that the public health system itself has ended up inflicting secondary trauma through acts of commission and omission,” the report states.

Poor Quality Treatment In Delhi Government Hospitals

The report makes several other grave accusations of lapses in the provision of medical treatment by the Delhi government’s health system. 

Three other worrying accusations are: negligence in providing care to the victims, even outright denial of care in some instances and in others, disregard for safety of patients. 

“There were instances where we saw that patients who had sought care at GTB and LNJP hospitals were not treated appropriately. In one case in which a man had been beaten by the police, he was taken to GTB hospital. He said he was treated there hurriedly and was asked to leave even though he had trouble standing up and walking. Two days later, he was in great discomfort and sought care at LNJP hospital. At LNJP he was not being admitted and instead being repeatedly told to go to GTB as that is where he had been treated at the first instance,” claims the report while explaining why it is accusing the hospitals of negligence in care.

“Far from providing healing from the trauma that victims have faced, we have found that the public health system itself has ended up inflicting secondary trauma through acts of commission and omission,”Jan Swasthya Abhiyaan Report

According to the report, volunteers were also told by patients that even in an atmosphere of great insecurity, they were asked to leave the hospital. “No ambulances were provided to drop them home. No assessment of safety was done to ascertain where the patient lives and whether it is safe for them to go back or not,” the report notes while detailing how patients were denied safety. 

The report mentions that patients were denied treatment since they didn’t have an medico legal case number or treatment records from the hospitals they had been previously treated in. “Several patients were not given their MLC number or treatment record by hospitals. If they went to a different hospital, they were told that they cannot be admitted unless they bring the MLC number and treatment records,” it noted. 

Inayat Kakkar of the JSA explained that the MLC numbers and treatment records are important because many of these are unnatural deaths so if the families of the victims want to seek justice by filing a case with the police, they need evidence from official documents to prove what the cause of the death was and who the culprits were.  But in the absence of the documentation, families won’t be able to pursue legal case against the perpetrators of violence. 

Possible Solutions?

The JSA has mentioned ten specific demands which it believes could ease the interface of patients with hospitals and provide them better care. It has asked the Delhi government to set up hospital liaisons in all government hospitals which are attending to the victims, issue written orders to hospitals to ensure that victims are not denied care or MLC numbers and treatment records, make available post-mortem reports to the next of kin, set up a toll free number for people to report instances of denial of services, operationalisation of mohalla clinic and other primary healthcare services in neighbourhoods and ensure availability of paediatricians, gynaecologists and surgeons are place there, among others.

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