The assault on three doctors in Mumbai by the distraught relatives of a child who died of dengue shows that there is a tendency among the public to automatically suspect doctors of not having done enough.
However, the Facebook post of the doctor who treated the child and was subsequently assaulted questions this tendency and demands safety for over-worked doctors in under-staffed hospitals.
Three-year-old Abu Sufian died in King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEM Hospital) in Mumbai on September 25, owing to complications from dengue. Distraught relatives of the child assaulted Dr Punit Garg, the resident doctor, and three other doctors who attempted to rescue him.
In his Facebook post on September 26, Garg outlined details of the protocol that he followed when the child was brought in. He said that, at every stage, he had followed both medical procedure, as well as hospital protocol relating to permissions from relatives of the patient. He said that he had started treatment only after the boyâ€™s family had been counselled about his severe condition and the non-availability of ICU beds.
He also expressed his helplessness at the dearth of manpower and resources in the hospital to handle emergency cases.
â€śWe counselled the patient repeatedly on the child's critical condition and the child could go bad anytime. The child then had to be shifted from emergency to the general ward as we were receiving other equally serious patients,â€ť said the resident doctor in his post.
Following this incident, 800 resident doctors of the hospital will be on indefinite strike until the longstanding demands of increased security and 145 CCTV cameras for protection are met.
Along with Garg, his colleagues, Dr Kushal Sharnagat and Dr Suhas Chowdhary escaped serious injuries when Abuâ€™s relatives attacked the trio, who were attending other patients.
Garg said, â€śâ€¦3 times that man tried to bludgeon my head with the stool. Twice I saved myself and third time the stool grazed my head, but fortunately one of my seniors dr .suhas held that relative back from further blows .. then the other 3 relatives pounced on Dr Suhas and my other senior dr. Kushal .. We managed to fend them off ..Suhas sustained lacerations on his back and arms and Kushal got bluny on his arms and chest with an iron rod ..but we barely escaped ...â€ť
Shocked at how sensitive a situation it was for doctors and patients, he stressed on the need for action and an end to media and people holding doctors responsible every time such a tragedy occurs. He stressed on the lack of safety for doctors.
â€ś.. After that the realisation hit me that this could have been the final moments of my life .. ended at the whims of some crazed person. Not just that my female colleagues and other patients children and mothers could have been badly hurt or worse .. This is wrong ! I have worked so hard to get here .. I slog day and night for these people .. sleeping less than 40 hours a week .. Some days skipping meals ..for what ?? We need to take a stand .enough is enough,â€ť he said.