The Kerala State Human Rights Commission has asked the state government why it has failed to effectively implement the Hospital Attack (Protection) Act, passed in 2012.
The rights commission sought a response from the government on Thursday, in the wake of the increasing number of attacks against doctors. Recently, Anuraj, a doctor at a private hospital in Kozhikode's Vadakara was attacked after a patient, who was administered an injection for headache, reportedly suffered a paralysis.
Following this, doctors in the district observed a medical bandh in the district on Wednesday.
The rights commission has asked the Chief Secretary, Secretary of the Health Department and the DGP of the state to apprise it about the failure in implementing the law. Acting Chairman P Mohandas has given the government one month's time to submit the report explaining the reasons for the lapse. The case will be considered in a sitting scheduled for June 6.
The commission noted that the attendants of some patients were attacking doctors and other hospital staff, by teaming up with criminals. The commission also observed that the strikes called for by the hospital staff and doctors would ultimately harm the functioning of health care sector in the state.
Earlier, a social activist PK Raju had approached the rights commission, saying that such attacks would have diminished, if only the police had taken necessary action against the attackers.
Responding to The News Minute on the matter, Dr Sreejith Kumar, former state president of IMA said that the police have completely failed in implementing the law and added that doctors were a vulnerable lot.
"Despite the state having such an effective law, and despite repeated complaints being filed against the attackers, the police hardly makes any arrests. According to the Act, the accused is supposed to be charged with a non-bailable offence. But here, the police is refusing to make any arrest, let alone bring the accused to books. There is utter lack of political will in protecting hospital staff and doctors from such attacks. Often, political pressure is exerted on private hospitals and the hospital management eventually fails to pursue the case," Dr Sreejith said.
He pointed out that more often than not, certain lobbies take undue advantage of a mishap and utilise the opportunity to target the hospital.
"We understand that when an untoward incident happens, the emotional state of the patient's families would be bad. However, people with vested interests manipulate their emotions and flare up the issue. At such times, doctors become the soft targets and the first reaction is to manhandle the doctor," Dr Sreejith said.
He added that the IMA has decided to take a tough stand on the matter, and said that it had zero tolerance towards such incidents.
IMA state action committee is scheduled to meet on May 7 to discuss the further course of action, he added.