AS SAFETY of doctors in hospitals takes centrestage with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) calling for an all-India strike on Monday, The Indian Express looks at similar incidents of violence by relatives and friends of patients in hospitals in different states in the recent past. The reaction of the state government and hospitals has been varied — with immediate arrests of perpetrators of violence in Bengaluru to provision of unarmed guards in Patna and pardon of the accused and withdrawal of FIR by doctors in Ahmedabad.
In 2017, BJP MP from Uttara Kannada, Ananth Kumar Hegde, and an associate were accused by police of beating up three doctors at the private TSS Hospital in Sirsi on January 2 for allegedly not treating his mother properly after she was brought in with a fractured leg.
Though the doctors who were allegedly assaulted and hospital authorities refused to file a complaint, the Sirsi New Market police registered a suo motu case against Hegde on January 5 on the basis of CCTV footage from the hospital. The case against the BJP MP says he beat up three doctors for not treating his mother. The hospital claimed that the MP’s brother had sought to shift their mother to another hospital after a surgery was recommended and that the hospital provided the first aid and pain management.
The former minister was booked under Karnataka Prohibition of Violence and Medicare Service Personnel and Damage to Property in Medicare Service Institutions Act, 2009 and sections of IPC for assault. Hegde was released on bail in 2017, but the matter is pending trial despite lack of witnesses.
An Association of Medical Consultants in Karnataka filed a private court complaint against Hegde and two associates. A court in Sirsi is scheduled to take cognizance of the case later this month.
In another instance, six persons from Mangaluru — Sharan, Brijesh, Anantaprasad, Avinash Pinto, Harish and Mahesh — were arrested in November 2018 for attacking the staff at the government-run Wenlock Hospital for allegedly not attending to their friends brought to the hospital in an injured condition.
The last major attack on doctors was reported from Ahmedabad Civil Hospital in 2018. A patient brought to hospital in a serious condition was operated upon, but did not survive. Relatives of the deceased barged into the operation theater, following which doctors and support staff fled to escape assault.
The incident led to a strike by resident doctors. Senior resident doctor of Ahmedabad Civil Hospital and former president of the hospital’s Junior Doctors’ Association Vidur Joshi said, “It happened in March-April last year when an accident victim with serious injuries on limb was admitted. The patient died in the OT. Following that, some relatives of the patient barged into OT with an intention to assault the doctors. The security present at the spot did not act.”
“We had launched a strike and an FIR was registered against the accused and 4-5 of them were arrested. During negotiations with the state government, our demands of taking action against the accused and having proper security at the hospital were fulfilled. So, the strike ended.”
Joshi said the accused had expressed regret for the act and sought withdrawal of the case. “On humanitarian ground, the doctors agreed and the accused were let off,” he said.
In March this year, relatives of an 80-year-old patient attacked a woman doctor at H B Kanwatia Hospital, which is attached to Sawai Man Singh Medical College and Hospital. The doctor had referred the patient to Sawai Man Singh hospital and was completing the formalities when the relatives attacked her, allegedly over a delay.
Police arrested two persons and booked them for causing disruption in government service. They were produced in court which then sent them to judicial custody.
Priyaranjan Kumar, a junior doctor of Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), was attacked by a patient’s relative after he asked the attendant to vacate the bed. Dr Kumar had suffered a fracture in his right hand and neck. Then a third-year postgraduate student of the surgery department, he said there was no provocation from his end as he had only asked him to vacate a patient’s bed occupied by an attendant.
Dr Saurav Kumar of Residents’ Welfare Association of AIIMS, Patna, said, “I was then part of PMCH and was surprised at the lackadaisical reaction of the state government. Though the accused was arrested, he got bail immediately. There was no further action.”
Bihar health minister Mangal Pandey had assured security of doctors and nurses after the incident. But so far, all government hospitals have only been provided unarmed private guards.
On December 28, pediatrician Dr Micheal Aranha was assaulted by two persons in his clinic at Himayatnagar. He was hospitalised with serious injuries on head and chest. Police said two persons, Gulam Mustafa and Abdul Fazil, were arrested. The duo is awaiting trial.
Officials at Narayanaguda Police Station said that during investigation, it was found that Gulam’s wife went with their child to the clinic.
Several patients were waiting and she asked the doctor if she could consult him out of turn. He refused. After the check-up, she called Gulam who arrived with his friend Abdul Fazil and they attacked the doctor, accusing him of insulting Gulam’s wife.
A case was registered on the doctor’s complaint under sections 448 and 326 IPC and Section 4 of Telangana Medicare Persons and Medicare Service Institutions (prevention of violence and damages to property) Act. The offences are cognizable and non-bailable. The woman also lodged a counter complaint, alleging that the doctor misbehaved with her.
On December 25, four persons went on a rampage at Global Hospital at Lakdi ka pul after a woman died during treatment. Police had arrested brothers Mohiuddin Ali Khan, Mir Barkat Ali Khan and Mir Mustafa Ali Khan and a relative Mohsin Khan for allegedly vandalising furniture and hospital equipment.
They allegedly roughed up the security manager and assaulted two policemen who responded to a call from the hospital. Officials at Saifabad Police station said the men went on a rampage after Shammem Begum, 55, the mother of the brothers, died of cardiac arrest after testing positive for swine flu. Police registered cases under Telangana Medicare Service Persons and Medicare Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Act and under Sections 148, 324, 427 and 149 of IPC. The accused are out on bail and a chargesheet is yet to filed.
Dr Rohan Mhamunkar was assaulted on duty in Dhule Civil hospital’s emergency ward by relatives of road accident victim Chaitram Lashkar on March 12, 2017. Lashkar had suffered a head injury. It was 10.30 pm and the hospital had no neurologist on duty. Mhamunkar was beaten up by the mob when he referred the patient to another hospital.
Mhamunkar (37) suffered a damaged left eye and a fracture in his skull bone. Lashkar was taken to three hospitals in Dhule before he succumbed to the injury.
Following the assault on Mhamunkar, over 4,500 resident doctors at government hospitals in Mumbai went on mass leave. IMA’s 40,000 doctors also went on strike. In March that year, eight cases of assault on doctors were registered in Maharashtra.
Based on CCTV footage, police arrested nine of Lashkar’s family members on March 13, booking them for attempt to murder, assault on a public servant, and under sections 3 and 4 of Maharashtra Medicare Service Person and Medicare Service Institution Act, 2010.
One of them, Pradeep Vetal, committed suicide in prison. The remaining were in prison for three months before the Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court granted them bail. The case is still under trial. “They are daily wage labourers. They do not have money to afford lawyers. They hit the doctor because no one was trying to save Chaitram,” said relative a Deepak Vetal.
A doctor of Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in Fatehgarh was allegedly abused and assaulted on June 4 by a relative of a patient after the doctor objected to his entry in the operation theater wearing shoes. The man, Anil Kumar Singh was a distant relative of the girl, who was undergoing operation for removal of a cyst from her thigh.
“The girl’s family was asked by doctors to deposit operation fees of Rs 400. Anil got annoyed and went inside the operation theater wearing shoes. Dr Gaurav Mishra, who was conducting the operation, asked Anil to leave,” said hospital superintendent Dr SP Singh. He alleged that when Dr Gaurav came out, Anil started abusing and heckling him.
SHO, Farrukhabad police station, Sanjay Mishra said three FIRs were lodged. “Two cases were filed against Dr Gaurav, including on charges of assault. The girl’s father had accused Dr Gaurav for misbehaving with his daughter during operation. The third was lodged against Singh for assaulting Dr Gaurav.”
Doctors of the hospital staged a protest and demanded withdrawal of the case against Dr Gaurav. “For three days, the OPD remained closed. Work resumed only after the cases were closed,” said Dr SP Singh.
The SHO said, “All three cases have been expunged after both groups said they don’t want to pursue them.”
(With inputs from Johnson TA in Bengaluru, Sreenivas Janyala in Hyderabad, Tabassum Barnagarwala in Mumbai, Santosh Singh in Patna, Hamza Khan in Jaipur, Parimal Dabhi in Ahmedabad and Manish Sahu from Lucknow)