Violence goes viral

June 10, 2019 0 By FM

A research article published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry claims that while violence against doctors is prevalent world over, Indian doctors face more violence as compared to those in western countries. Almost every day, we hear of patients getting violent against doctors for one reason or the other.

This has been attributed to various factors like poor healthcare budget allocation by the government, scarcity of healthcare professionals and even a lack of training on empathy and communication in the medical curriculum.

“It is the junior doctors that bear the brunt of physical violence by patients as per research,”

says Dr Jateen Ukrani, consultant psychiatrist at PsyCare Neuropsychiatry Centre, Delhi and one of the authors of the research paper: Violence against doctors: A viral epidemic.

He adds that “in emergency rooms, 100% of doctors face some kind of verbal violence”.

Often, government hospitals are poorly equipped to deal with the amount of patient load than what they actually receive, which makes the overall experience for the patient and the doctors stressful. This becomes a fertile soil for breeding violence.

Another factor that contributes to this growing violence is the lack of training on effective communication in the medical curriculum. According to Dr Indla Ramasubba Reddy, a senior psychiatrist from VIMHANS Vijayawada, “Communication and empathy are not part of the medical curriculum. These are important for being a good medical professional. Psychiatrists can help improve communication skills for doctors and also help in identifying early indicators of violence”.


Communication crucial

Experts also point out that with the advancement of medical science, it has become more investigation-oriented which means there is less opportunity to talk and interact with the patient.  Thus communication suffers, and patients often don’t understand the risks. This, combined with all other factors, has led to a higher rate of violence against doctors in India. This leads to many doctors becoming depressed or quitting the profession prematurely or not taking risky cases.

“Women doctors are also not spared from violence and are often soft targets”, says Dr Varsha Ukrani, senior psychiatrist from Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Hospital, Delhi. It is pointed out that those working in Obs & Gyn department are more prone to violence than any other department.

Dr Vishal Indla, chief psychiatrist at VIMHANS, Vijayawada says doctors are the most vulnerable among all professionals when it comes to workplace violence due to various factors ranging from poor budget allocation for health and weak laws.

The study suggests that though acts are in place in 19 states for protecting doctors against violence, these are not applied strictly, and till date, no convictions have been made. The government should work on improving the infrastructure and also on the proper implementation of these acts, which will reduce the burden of violence against doctors to a great extent. Further, doctors are advised to undergo workshops on the enhancement of communication skills and stress management to deal with such situations. It is also advised that institutions have a zero tolerance policy towards violence against their doctors, and that it must be reported to the authorities immediately. Such a thing is being done abroad and needs to be implemented in our country so that healthcare delivery is done in a safe and stress-free environment.