The resolution from the Health Ministry is required at time when the Supreme Court is considering a plea regarding the increasing number of assaults against doctors and other healthcare professionals.
While numerous incidents of violence have been reported, they are yet to be resolved. The instances have seemed to reach their pinnacle when a Rajasthan-based Dr. Archana Sharma committed suicide after being accused of murder of a patient who passed away due to Postpartum hemorrhage.
While doctors are being abused and beaten up on a daily basis, the law has only provided them with limited help. Doctors are now demanding Central Doctors Protection Act.
Although the Draft RMP (Professional Conduct) Regulations, 2022 allows doctors to refuse treatment to patients in the event of ‘abusive, unruly and violent patients or relatives’, there is still no solution as such to the daily abuse faced by doctors.
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What was the Aim of the Legislation?
The aim of the legislation ‘The Healthcare Service Personnel and Clinical Establishments (prohibition of violence and damage to property) Bill, 2019’ is to penalize and imprison the accused who assault doctors and other healthcare workers. As per this law, the duration of imprisonment is no less than six months and can be extended to 5 years. Along with this, the accused found guilty will also have to pay anywhere from Rs. 50,000 up to Rs. 5 Lakhs.
What was the Fate of the Legislation?
However, this draft proposal was rejected back in 2019 by the Home Ministry claiming that a separate law for health professionals cannot be considered. When Dr. K.V. Babu asked the government about pursuing the draft, the Health Ministry replied, “With regard to your RTI Application, it is informed that it was decided not to pursue the draft legislation.” The Ministry also added that no further action has been taken on the matter and no recent communication has been done with the Ministry of Home Affairs, as per records available in the medical services section.”
Dr. Babu had filed the first RTI on July 5 followed by another RTI back on July 27 after the reports referring to the possibilities that the Health Ministry is considering the legislation after the suicide of Dr. Archana Sharma.
Is the Government Being Hypocritical?
In response the Ministry’s reply, Dr. Babu told the daily, “The logic to shelve the proposal was that a separate law is not needed in this regard, then why in April 2020, the government came out with an amendment in the Epidemic Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020 during the pandemic.”
Further mentioning that the amendment includes protections for healthcare personnel combatting the epidemic diseases, Dr. Babu further added, “My point is when the government was in dire need during the pandemic, when people were attacking doctors and other medical practitioners, the government introduced the amendment. So, why is it now backtracking from its promise.”
Are Associations Doing What Government Cannot?
In the meantime, associations like the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have been demanding a strict law to stop the attacks on doctors and physicians and other healthcare professionals. The World Medical Association (WMA) had also stepped in and written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to find a solution regarding the number of attacks on the medical practitioners in India.
What Should be Done in Case a Doctor is Violently Attacked?
The standard operating procedure should be made and followed strictly. Code Purple should be declared and all measures should be taken in case of violence. Security staff to respond and assist immediately. All staff (except Operation Theatre & ICU) should form a human chain. All staff should remain calm & practice restraint. Closed-circuit television (CCTV) monitoring in sensitive areas is a must and should report to the Police immediately
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