By Madhurjya Baruah
Of late, there is a discussion about medical terrorism in Assam. First let’s clear a few things, the subject medical terrorism can’t be denied either in Assam or in other parts of the country. It is also a fact that a section of people think doctors to be dacoits and hospitals a harbouring place of dacoits. These classes of people form organizations to propagate and publicize about medical terrorism by holding press conferences in the print and electronic media, creating an impression that hundreds of patients die daily due to wrong treatment of doctors. We need to raise our voices against this. It may be true that some patients die prematurely and accidentally due to wrong treatment. We are equally sorry and condemn these incidents, but all deaths are not due to negligence of doctors. Such instances should be properly investigated by experts, having proper knowledge of medico-legal science. Without doing so, only blaming a doctor is equally condemble.
Recent instances of physical assault on doctors by relatives of deceased patients are a cause of concern for the medical fraternity. People allege that doctors are negligent towards ailing patients and therefore are responsible for untimely death. However, it seems people fail to realize the need to think ratiolly the causes of death and put the entire blame on the medical fraternity.
It is not to deny the fact that there have been instances of death despite best of efforts, however, is assault on doctors justified by any means? Any death is a saddening event for relatives and friends, and such cases are regrettable. However, would breaking the law bring back the dead? Looking at the gravity of the situation from the patient’s point of view, would it not be better to go for legal remedy?
Terrorism – a term associated with cold blooded murder of innocent people has been a term used for doctors in general, for a few cases of negligent death. But using such an extreme term for a respected section of the society, that serves to cure various diseases and bring back the lives of several other patients is regrettable. Terrorists have an ideology to kill without any justification, but the ideology of doctors is to save lives under any circumstances, be they terrorists or common men. The first religion of doctors is to save lives from the brink of death, and not to kill people. Hence, is the term terrorist for doctors justified by any means?
There have been instances whereby patients have gone against medical advice and taken steps which in turn have aggravation the medical condition. At times this has aggravated the condition resulting in death in some cases. At times relatives’ attacks doctors, destroy public property by damaging furniture and burning ambulances. In such cases it’s the patient and their relatives who are at fault as they have gone against medical advice, which has resulted in untimely death. Therefore, is it justified to blame doctors and call them terrorists, just because a patient has died, and that too due to negligence of patients rather than doctors? Who are the actual terrorists, is it the doctors or the patients’ relatives and friends?
There are also instances whereby several surgeons have carried out extremely complex procedures like separating conjoined twins with a single heart and lungs. A few days back there were reports of doctors advising creation of a green corridor for a six month old baby suffering from respiratory disorder so that it can be taken to Delhi to get the best of medical treatment. Doctors could have given up and said, it’s impossible to save the life of this little angel, but they never gave up.
Such are instances of the medical fraternity coming forward to save lives, but a few rare negligent cases have made people generalize and call doctors terrorists. Due to instances of assault, doctors have to work under physical and mental pressure. In such circumstances doctors uble to give their best and serve the best interests of patients, and have a tendency of passing the buck to other doctors so as to save themselves from insults later.
Here the media can play an important and constructive role. Instead of sensatiolizing and continually running such coverage over and over again, it is imperative that the electronic and print media shows some restraint and find out the actual cause of death. The media can play an important part in creating conducive atmosphere of discussion between the medical fraternity and civilian think-thanks, which would remove misconceptions about the medical fraternity.
Therefore, it is essential to highlight this important issue in this august forum, so that we being senior medical professiols come forward and clear the misconception among the common people, to have a mutually benefiting experience both for patients and doctors. It’s we who need to take the lead in bringing awareness among the masses about the need of cordial relation between patients and doctors.