‘We are not Gods’: Government Doctors in Bengaluru Demand Safety
“Patients attendants always want the cure to be instant, they want the patient to be cured instantly. That is not always possible. People should understand that no doctor wants the patient to die. Even though we get thousands of patients, we don’t turn anyone away.”Dr Meghana Devakki, junior doctor
Picture this: A young doctor, in his or her early 20s, screening scores of patients every day, suturing and stitching up wounds for 18-20 hours at a go and surviving on less than 4 hours of sleep. Only to be beaten up by an unhappy patient’s relatives.
Once revered as a noble profession, doctors today are subject to abuse, slapped and downright disrespected at their place of work, even in urban Bengaluru. The Quint spoke to several junior doctors and interns to understand their woes and what can be done to make govt hospitals safer.
Rattled By Recent Attacks
A number of junior doctors that The Quint spoke to were rattled by the attack on the government hospital doctor in Kolkata recently, which brought to light the pervasiveness of the problem.
“After the incident, its kind of in the back of our heads that this happened. That this could happen to you. The doctor who got hit is also a house surgeon like me, the only difference is i’m working here and he was working there, so it could happen to me as well,” said Dr Ajay Ramesh, a house surgeon at Victoria Hospital.
“I suddenly shudder at the sight of myself in the ICU with a broken skull and what if god forbid, such a scene occurs and my parents are sitting outside the ICU and weeping, I don’t want to see that. And fear is the first feeling that developed in me when I heard about the incident,”Dr Sharon Frederick, house surgeon.
36 Hour Shifts, Almost No Rest and No Respect
“It’s not easy to get up at 2-3 am and come back here to treat a stranger, it takes a lot out from you and still we are doing it. There are situations where I got scared, there are situations where I have gone to my higher authorities for protection, I have done that,” said Dr. Devakki.
“The amount of risks doctors were taking before has decreased because of these things happen. We are scared, we are totally scared now,” added Dr. Devakki.
Junior doctors, often the first point of contact for patients seeking treatment at government hospitals and invariably become easy targets for unhappy relatives of patients, dissatisfied by the service provided.
“Lack of facilities equals our incompetence now, we are being made answerable for a spectrum of problems which is not under our control. We are the grassroot level of doctors here, we are junior doctors here, there is only so much under our control but we are at the forefront of patient doctor interaction right,” said Dr. Shravanthi, another house surgeon.
“We interact with patients on a daily basis, we are being made to be answerable for so many things that we have almost no control over,” added Dr Shravanthi,
Putting Doctors’ Health in Jeopardy
A senior doctor at a government hospital, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that ever since joining government service 17 years ago, his health had gone for a toss.
“When I joined the govt setup, I was healthy. Two years after joining, I was found to be a diabetic, that is all because of stress-induced diabetes. After that I have been a diabetic for the last 14 years,” he said.
“At the age of 30 years, I got my Type 2 diabetes. I am on insulin, morning 60 evening 60 units of insulin I am taking. I have spoilt my health like anything, I can’t give time to my family,” he rued.
Improve Govt Hospitals, They Demand
Improve infrastructure, build more hospitals, hire more doctors, build facilities with more capacity to treat people, increase the number of machines. These are some of the demands raised by government doctors to help improve their condition.
“Once they vote, they are the votebanks now. they vote and they just forget about the MPs, but those are the people who are responsible for the arrangements that have to be done,” said a junior doctor.