Doctors in India and other Asian countries face more violence at the workplace than their western counterparts, according to a meta-analysis of studies on violence against doctors published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry on Tuesday.
“We found 75% of all doctors in India have faced some form of violence. This is much higher than nearly 50-60% violence reported in countries like the US and the UK,” said Dr Jateen Ukrani, one of the authors of the paper and a consultant at PsyCare Neuropsychiatry Centre, Delhi.
Every doctor who works in the emergency department has faced verbal violence, the study found. As for physical violence, psychiatrists are more susceptible than other doctors. “Our analysis shows almost 40-50% psychiatrists face physical violence, which is higher than doctors working in general hospitals. This is because they are under threat of violence from patients who are anxious or paranoid,” said Dr Indla Ramasubba Reddy, director of VIMHANS hospital, Andhra Pradesh.
At policy level, low budgetary spending on health, high out-of-pocket expenditure, lack of facilities in government hospitals and overworked doctors lead to violence. The perception that all doctors are profiteers adds to that.
“Violence is very demoralising and leads to doctors practising defensive medicine,” said Dr Reddy.
To bring down cases of violence, the study has suggested that the government increase the “dismal” spending on healthcare.
Dr MC Mishra, former director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, said, “The more important issue is that of doctors’ behaviour. Nobody comes to the hospital thinking that they will beat up the doctor, it happens because they feel that they are not receiving adequate attention.”