EFFECT OF VERBAL/PHYSICAL ABUSE ON THE QUALITY OF WORK
Dr Shivani Vakilwala
Stop violence against doctors!!
Medical practitioners’ worry, little action taken!!!
Doctors on roads to protest against physical assault at work!!!!
Yes, these have been the recent headlines in all newspapers, news channels. Gone is that era where Doctors were considered next to God. Rather than taking a look at the statistics let us take a look at how adversely these episodes have affected the life of doctors.
Every single day in the life of a doctor, they have to deal with a lot of workload, problems and queries with a lot of patience. But the question is, is it really valued?
It is a very common habit of patients these days to play the blame game and the easy target of this happens to be the doctors treating them. But is it really the doctor’s fault? What about the exorbitant prices at private hospitals? What about the poor healthcare delivery at the primary level due to poor funding? What about the media who blatantly and conveniently throw the blame on the doctors?
All this has had a drastic effect on the doctors, as at every step of duty they live with a fear of being abused or assaulted by patients or their relatives.
Due to such numerous incidents of physical assault at hospitals, there have been so many incidents where young students who clear pre-medical entrance exam to decide upon switching careers as they are scared to put their lives at stake. Yes, this is the magnitude of fear now among students and healthcare professionals!
All of this has led to the doctors becoming more prone to mental health problems, than any other profession. A lady doctor on call at the Lok Nayak hospital in Delhi was physically assaulted and apparently threatened with rape by a patient’s relative, her crime was that she had attended the sicker patient first among the two patients who arrived at the same time, which allegedly upset the other patient’s relative. On September 18th 2018, another lady was beaten up in the Lal Dedd hospital of Kashmir as the patient delivered a stillborn baby.
Doctors going on strike leads to an enormous loss to healthcare services, but blaming them for this loss is not the solution. Even if the patients or their relatives have a complaint against the doctor, they should seek the help of the court of law and not take the law into their own hands.
A study by the Indian Medical Association has revealed that more than 75 percent of doctors have experienced violence at work. Such statistics are absolutely perplexing and obviously the young doctors these days take them seriously, due to such an increase in occupational violence so many doctors with the MBBS degree have opted out of a specialization course and have started opting for Management in Hospital Administration where they are not in direct contact with the patients, a majority of them are choosing these courses not out of interest, but to avoid assault. They feel that after giving in so many hours of studies and heavy hours of duty, they do not get any respect these days and neither are only MBBS doctors given any importance, hence they prefer switching careers post MBBS as they feel that they do not want to be a part of senseless violence and killings by the relatives.
All such incidents lead to a long-term depression, loss in self-confidence and the urge to do more. Such young and talented minds are haunted by the fear of assault.
The World Health Organisation states, “Between 8% and 38% of health workers suffer physical violence at some point in their careers. Many more are threatened or exposed to verbal aggression. Most violence is perpetrated by patients and visitors.” This is a new epidemic invading medical corridors across the globe.
Image Source :https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/10/e008221
Image Source: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/10/e008221
This is a flowchart depicting how one event leads to another, how miscommunication among the doctors and the patients and their relatives lead to such assaults and how it can be prevented by making a formal complaint to the hospital and taking up formal court proceedings.
Intense workloads and pressures from within the hospital to generate revenue in the face of low salary, high patient expectations, inadequate training to deal with patient disputes are the root causes leading to a burnout among the doctors.
What can be done about it?
- There should be an increase in security at all hospitals.
- Adequate funding by the Government for good healthcare delivery.
- Make an Act to prevent violence against Doctors and create awareness about such acts among the public and the police where people assaulting doctors are heavily fined and sent to jail.
Save the Saviours! You need them as much as they do. Let hospitals be places of compassion, caring and healing and not police zones.