Many a times the equilibrium of much desired trustworthy relationship between the treating physician and relations of patient is being jeopardized, when a medical practitioner is assaulted. The incidences of such attacks are on steep rise. It remains a painful experience to go through the newspaper headlines ‘ Doctor brutally attacked ‘. This may be just another news for many, but it’s a matter of grave concern for budding doctors like us!
This distressing issue has ignited my mind and soul. The first thought which strikes my mind ‘ Whether all assaults on doctors are due to unawareness and ignorance of people related to patient? And the answer is ‘Yes’ six out of ten times. For the rest four times causes can be attributed to either attitude problems on part of doctor or patient’s relation, delay in referring critically ill patient to a specialty center ,financial issues, unhealthy instigative remarks from colleague about the care received so far , death of patient at young age or less commonly real medical negligence!
If unawareness and ignorance is responsible in majority of cases of assault on doctors, it’s quite obvious that strict laws only cannot hold back the outrageous behavior of community against doctors!
The onus lies on the treating physician to educate the patient, relatives about the disease, possible outcomes, and pitfalls of treatment rather than only telling about pearls and more importantly let them know immediately if condition worsens.
Transparency from either side is must during the course of disease management.
Patient must not hide or conceal certain medical facts which he or she may be aware of. It has been commonly heard that patients have habit of not revealing available reports in order to either check the efficiency of the new doctor or they think that previous work up was useless as they are not ready to accept bitter pill of newly diagnosed disease. Similarly the treating physician should also honestly admit the limitations of either an individual or of medical science in reaching the precise diagnosis and management. If at all dilemma persist relatives should be explained about this. They should have freedom to have second opinion from other medical practitioner. It is very important to judge the behavior pattern of patient’s relatives. It is also equally important to sense impending danger from judging level of dissatisfaction and sometimes from adverse remarks they are making within the hospital premises.
Following evidence based medicine will also decrease the incidences of assault on doctors.
Assaults on doctors are more common when mob gathers. So always be aware of this.
In certain states of our country assault on doctors invites non-bailable warrant and is heavily punishable offense. But it is the collective responsibility of medical fraternity and people in general to harmoniously settle out an issue through across the table discussions, rather than entering the confrontation. The assault may not be always physical, but it could be even a verbal assault!
Having discussed this I would like to conclude the topic by way of suggesting Dos and Don’ts for both parties, medical professionals and patients, in hope to avoid assaults on doctors.
Full disclosure is of utmost importance from either parties to maintain a healthy relationship. Patients must not hide about a previous illness which could affect the treatment plan and also the practitioner must clearly state the prognosis so as to avoid unrealistic expectations. The patient and the relatives must also accept the limitations of medical science. All the complications should be disclosed at once by the physician and even the petty complaints of patients should be taken seriously. The relatives of patient must be well informed and should be involved in decision making process. It is also very important to take consent from the patient in a language he/she understands, preferably mother tongue. Physician must also be careful in choosing the patient and must not undertake treatment beyond his/her domain. The patient should feel free to discuss with the attending doctor or the hospital management in case he is not satisfied. The most important thing to be done to maintain a healthy doctor-patient relationship is avoiding rudeness by both parties involved. It has been observed that breach of trust often stems from rude remark and creates a feeling of dislike. So, one must always be patient.
I would like to conclude by stating that one must not resort to assault on anyone, most of all doctors who by many are even considered next to God!
[This articles was sent by Swapnil Tolia as part of ‘Zigverve Creative Writing Contest]