A medical student participates in a protest called by Indian Medical Association (IMA), during a nationwide doctors strike in Kochi on Monday.
A medical student participates in a protest called by Indian Medical Association (IMA), during a nationwide doctors strike in Kochi on Monday.

After West Bengal face-off, centre may prescribe safety norms for doctors

  • The policy calls for better communication with the patients for their safety and checking any violent incidents
  • According to the framework, the minimum healthcare workers’ safety requirements have to be issued by the health ministry

NEW DELHI: After the end of a week-long face-off between agitating doctors and the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government on Monday, the centre too is looking at its safety guidelines for doctors.

The Union health ministry said it is working toward the speedy implementation of its own proposal made under the National Patient Safety Implementation Framework (2018-2025) that says health workers’ safety is as important as patient safety.

According to the framework, the minimum healthcare workers’ safety requirements have to be issued by the health ministry, which needs to be incorporated in all licensing and accreditation programmes.

The policy calls for better communication with the patients for their safety and checking any violent incidents. “Patient safety concepts need to be incorporated in the work culture of healthcare providers and the way they communicate to each other while delivering the care.

Apart from service providers, patients and community at large also need to be sensitized on patient safety related issues," the framework document states. The framework suggests a comprehensive communication strategy for patient safety involving all stakeholders. The communication strategy will be developed targeting patients as well as care providers. “The work is in progress. Hospital violence is an important issue that has to taken care of," said Manoj Jhallani, additional secretary, union health ministry.

Apart from making stringent central laws against hospital violence, the medical fraternity has also called for training doctors to tackle such cases during their studies. “In the medical curriculum, the students are not briefed and educated about how to deal with the patients, relatives, and media appropriately. It seems of paramount importance now for the doctors to learn to deal with the violent patients and their relatives, and this must be included in the medical curriculum as a short subject," said Raju Vaishya, senior orthopaedic surgeon at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi.

“In a Chinese study of doctors, increased violence by patients has been shown as a major contributing factor for low morale of doctors," he said.

“In overburdened healthcare facilities, especially government hospitals, it is inevitable that the quality of care may sometimes get compromised as the doctors attend a significant number of patients in a small window of time. It imparts a perception of neglect and dissatisfaction to the patient and their family. Delay in attending to their patient or poor communication can quickly drive them over an edge," said Rahul Gupta, director of neurosurgery at Fortis Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre in Delhi.

A brutal physical assault on a resident doctor, Paribaha Mukharjee, at Kolkata’s NRS Medical College on 11 June by a group of people associated with a patient’s attendant triggered a nationwide doctors’ strike that was resolved on Monday.

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