2/3rd of patients at Safdarjung turned back, doctors seek cure to ills in system
New Delhi: The outpatient department at Safdarjung hospital usually has a daily footfall of 8,000-9,000 patients, but on Monday this number reduced to just 3,723. Many patients, including those seeking emergency treatment, alleged that they were told to return as resident doctors were on strike to protest the assault of a colleague on Sunday.
An 18-year-year accident victim, who was admitted to the hospital’s emergency room on Saturday, succumbed to his injuries on Monday. His family alleged that he didn’t receive proper treatment because of the strike. He was referred to Safdarjung from a hospital in Gurgaon.
TOI spoke to several doctors at Safdarjung and other major public hospitals regarding the assault on medical professionals as well as the strikes called by them.
“We get beaten up for administrative issues that aren’t in our control. Public hospitals are overburdened and, therefore, it becomes difficult to satisfy all patients,” said Dr Prakash Thakur, president of Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA) of Safdarjung hospital, adding that resident doctors often work for 36 hours at a stretch.
As patient load cannot be decreased and it takes years to create infrastructure to tackle this burden, one of the common demands at most hospitals is better security. Thakur said they met the additional secretary in Union health ministry after the assault on a resident and a decision was taken to deploy 18 marshals on an urgent basis.
The government also ag- reed to augment security measures over time and take strict action against those who assault doctors following which the strike was called off.
However, Dr Vivek Chouksey, former president of Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association (FORDA), said the crisis will remain unresolved unless disparity in health infrastructure is reduced. “Young doctors employed in public hospitals, where the patient burden is very high and resources are scarce, face a hapless situation. They work more than 12 hours a day and long- er in emergency scenarios. There is no time for study or recreation,” he added.
Chouksey said all hospitals should have a yoga centre, gym and other options for resident doctors to de-stress and get psychological help, if required.
A survey involving junior and senior resident doctors at Lok Nayak and GB Pant hospitals attached to Maulana Azad Medical College revealed that 41% of them faced violence at work. Death of patients and “delay” in treatment were the most common reasons for violence. Some of the relati- ves, doctors complained, became violent on being told about “lack of medicines”. A perception about their patient getting “inadequate attention” was another trigger for physical violence.
Even AIIMS, India’s premier hospital, has witnessed multiple strikes in the past over assault on doctors. In 2017, the resident doctors took to wearing helmets at work to protest against violence. “We don’t want to lose our vision and life as well as our hard-earned degrees. Prevention is better than cure,” they had said.
STIR HITS MANY: Safdarjung hospital saw 3,723 patients in OPD on Monday. The doctors were protesting against an assault on a colleague