A month after resident doctors in Delhi went on a strike protesting, among other issues, no action in cases of assault against doctors by angry patients and their kin, an institutional FIR has been registered by hospital authorities at the Delhi government’s Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital under the stringent Medicare Service Persons and Medical Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage of Property) Act, 2008 — a non-bailable offence with three years’ imprisonment.
After meeting doctors and medical superintendents on July 11, Health Minister Satyendra Jain had said the stringent Act would be invoked where, prima facie, it appeared an assault had occurred against doctors and that all FIRs would be institutional FIRs, filed by hospital authorities.
“Usually when individual doctors report such incidents, cases are registered under sections of physical assault or voluntarily causing hurt, which are bailable. So, doctors complained that these cases do not act as deterrents. The health minister agreed that wherever necessary, the stringent Act needs to be invoked,” a senior official in the Health department said.
Delhi Medical Council registrar Dr Girish Tyagi said the council had written to the Delhi government in mid-2000s after Andhra Pradesh became the first state to pass the stringent Act to protect doctors from violence.
DCP (Outer) Vikramjit Singh confirmed the registration of the case. “No arrests have yet been made in this case. We are reviewing the statement of the hospital authorities and the accused,” he said.
The FIR was filed on July 15 at the Mangolpuri police station on the basis of a complaint filed by the chief casualty medical officer of the hospital, who was authorised by hospital medical superintendent Dr Awneendra Prasad.
A resident doctor in the medicine emergency had alleged that around noon the same day, a woman patient, who came with symptoms of diarrhoea, abused and pushed him when she was asked to wait her turn for treatment.
The doctor stated in the FIR that he got a “left forearm anterior aspect” in the incident. Speaking to The Indian Express after the FIR was registered, the doctor said, “The woman pushed me and hit me, and then her husband and relatives came and interrupted hospital work. This was in broad daylight in the emergency. In the past, three such incidents have happened in the emergency but no institutional FIR was ever registered.”
Dr Prasad confirmed the hospital had filed the complaint with the police authorities.
President of Federation of Resident Doctors Associations Dr Pankaj Solanki welcomed the move. “While another institutional FIR has been filed over an assault case in Bhagwan Mahavir hospital, to the best of our knowledge after our strike this section has been invoked only in this case,” he said.