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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 79-83

The 2017 Academic College of Emergency Experts and Academy of Family Physicians of India position statement on preventing violence against health - care workers and vandalization of health - care facilities in India

1 Department of Emergency Medicine, Dr. RPGMC Kangra at Tanda, Himachal Pradesh, India
2 Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Florida, Jacksonville, FL, USA
3 Academy of Family Physicians of India, New Delhi, India
4 Department of Community Medicine, Dr. RPGMC Kangra at Tanda, Himachal Pradesh, India
5 Department of Emergency Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
6 Department of Emergency Medicine, Jubilee Mission Medical College and Research Institute, Thrissur, Kerala, India
7 Department of Emergency Medicine, Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
8 Vice Chancellor, Pandit BD Sharma University of Health Sciences, Rohtak, Haryana, India
9 Pediatrics, A.J Institute of Medical Sciences, Mangalore, Karnataka, India
10 Department of Medicine, Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh, New Delhi, India
11 Private Practice, Family Physician, Bangaluru, Karnataka, India
12 Department of Family Medicine, MIMS Hospital, Kochi, Kerala, India
13 Department of Family Medicine, West Bengal, India
14 Sarvodaya Hospital, Bokaro, Jharkhand, India

Date of Web Publication12-Jun-2017

Correspondence Address:
Vivek Chauhan
Dr. RPGMC Kangra at Tanda, Himachal Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJCIIS.IJCIIS_28_17

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There have been multiple incidents where doctors have been assaulted by patient relatives and hospital facilities have been vandalized. This has led to mass agitations by Physicians across India. Violence and vandalism against health-care workers (HCWs) is one of the biggest public health and patient care challenge in India. The sheer intensity of emotional hijack and the stress levels in both practicing HCWs and patient relative's needs immediate and detail attention. The suffering of HCWs who are hurt, the damage to hospital facilities and the reactionary agitation which affects patients who need care are all together doing everything to damage the delivery of health care and relationship between a doctor and a patient. This is detrimental to India where illnesses and Injuries continue to be the biggest challenge to its growth curve. The expert group set by The Academic College of Emergency Experts and The Academy of Family Physicians of India makes an effort to study this Public Health and Patient Care Challenge and provide recommendations to solve it.

Keywords: Doctors, healthcare professionals, violence

How to cite this article:
Chauhan V, Galwankar S, Kumar R, Raina SK, Aggarwal P, Agrawal N, Krishnan S V, Bhoi S, Kalra O P, Soans ST, Aggarwal V, Kubendra M, Bijayraj R, Datta S, Srivastava R P. The 2017 Academic College of Emergency Experts and Academy of Family Physicians of India position statement on preventing violence against health - care workers and vandalization of health - care facilities in India. Int J Crit Illn Inj Sci 2017;7:79-83

How to cite this URL:
Chauhan V, Galwankar S, Kumar R, Raina SK, Aggarwal P, Agrawal N, Krishnan S V, Bhoi S, Kalra O P, Soans ST, Aggarwal V, Kubendra M, Bijayraj R, Datta S, Srivastava R P. The 2017 Academic College of Emergency Experts and Academy of Family Physicians of India position statement on preventing violence against health - care workers and vandalization of health - care facilities in India. Int J Crit Illn Inj Sci [serial online] 2017 [cited 2023 Mar 30];7:79-83. Available from: https://www.ijciis.org/text.asp?2017/7/2/79/207746

   Introduction Top

Recently, an orthopedics resident in Maharashtra was brutally assaulted by a mob for allegedly telling the attendants to shift an accident victim with a head injury to some other hospital since the hospital did not have a neurosurgeon. The police took action and arrested the person who assaulted the doctor and the accused later committed suicide in the police custody.[1] There have been multiple incidents such as the above in the past few years. There have been protests, and these have made headlines too.

   Background Top

Workplace violence is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as Incidents where staff are abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances related to their work, including commuting to and from work, involving an explicit or implicit challenge to their safety, well-being or health .[2]

With the modernization of medicine and growth of corporate culture in India, the fabric of patient–doctor relationship has become weak. We must note that the incidents of violence against health-care workers (HCWs) have rarely been reported from the corporate hospitals. The prominent factors responsible for low rates of violence in the corporate sector include the restricted access of public to the treatment rooms and wards, high nurse to patient ratios, security personnel and processes, step-up care systems, round the clock availability of senior doctors, fixed working hours for HCW and staff, better communication systems, and availability of counseling and grievance redressal services. We know that the patient treatment protocols are not very different in the corporate hospitals than the government hospitals. The environmental and administrative issues play a major role in the prevention of violence in corporate hospitals.

The government hospitals, on the other hand, are run mainly by junior postgraduate/MBBS doctors who work continuously without sleep and rest for 24–36 h in the absence of assured backup from senior doctors, dealing with the neglected patients, their frustrated relatives, inefficient hospital staff, poor nurse/patient ratios, lack of beds, poor laboratory and radiology services, delays in treatment, lack of hospital supplies, medicolegal aspects, and lack of security arrangements. Such a working environment is like a haystack waiting to be lit up by a minor incident.

Like every other incident, even this one has multiple perspectives, which need to be studied and the solutions should be clear and easily implementable. Workplace violence is not an isolated, individual problem but a structural, strategic problem rooted in social, economic, organizational, and cultural factors. An approach should consequently be developed and promoted which would attack the problem at its roots, involve all parties concerned and take into account the special cultural and gender dimension of the problem.[2]

   Challenges and Solutions Top

According to the WHO, the organizational attributes that predispose to violence include hospitals working with insufficient resources, including inappropriate equipment, functioning in a culture of tolerance or acceptance of violence, working with a style of management based on intimidation, and noted for poor communication and interpersonal relationships.[2]

As shown by the Indian Medical Association study, most violence was faced by the Indian doctors while providing emergency services.[3] Still, the rudimentary casualty system exists across India, while rest of the world has developed advanced nationwide prehospital emergency medical service systems integrated with Emergency Medicine (EM) Departments in their hospitals to deal with the emergencies.

Patients are the same across the world so are the relatives. EM and emergency situations are adrenaline charged scenarios.

   The Emergency Scenarios in Patient Care Top

Despite the nod by the Medical Council of India in 2009 to develop EM as a standalone specialty in Indian medical colleges, only few States in India have shown interest to develop this specialty till date. We know that EM will not bring an end to the assaults on HCW, but it will surely improve the delivery of care to the patients in an emergency in a scientific manner to reduce the substrate for such reactions. As shown by the Indian Medical Association study, most violence was faced by the Indian HCW while providing emergency services in the age old casualty system of Indian hospitals that is a nightmare for the HCW, patients, and public.[3] Most hospitals in India lack the processes and people who are committed and capable of emergency service delivery. The senior doctors with skills and experience are hard to find, in most Indian hospitals, during the emergency hours. Our emergency departments (EDs), run by nonspecialized casualty medical officers and interns, run as mere postal service shuttling patients from one specialty to the other till someone claims them.

Patients need private areas of emergent intense care. Departments need providers who can communicate and counsel the charged relatives. Departments and providers should be capable of facing any emergency and provide immediate clinical interventions to manage airway breathing circulation and provide high-intensity resuscitation. Having transfer agreements and protocols in place and having blood, resuscitation drugs, ambulances, and infrastructure available is another important aspect. Most important factor is having physicians who are trained in EM and by that also having all skills of communication and skills to contain emotionally hostile situations. Such skills also should be provided to all graduating doctors and nurses.

   National Emergency Life Support Education Top

The Ministry of Health, Government of India, has also rolled out the first phase of National Emergency Life Support Skills Centres in six states recently that will work to provide the necessary skills to the HCW dealing with emergencies. This is a highly appreciable step by the government and needs to be implemented at a large scale in all States of India.

   Teaching Critical Communication Skills Top

We need massive nationwide efforts to develop our clinical responsiveness in critical situations. Mere development of trauma centers and hospitals is not going to be enough and a comprehensive approach focusing on all emergencies that endanger lives, organs, or limbs of humans has to be the basis for future emergency care in India. This includes training of all family physicians, MBBS doctors in smaller hospitals in emergency care as well as the development of large number of super-specialists to provide specialized care in district level hospitals.

In our medical schools, we need to teach medical students how to break the bad news to the relatives. The junior doctors are often assaulted just because they consider death as a routine matter, but for the laymen who assault them, it is usually their first experience in life. Therefore, careful choice of words and actions in such situations makes all the difference.

   Media and Its Effects on Medicine Top

Media has also played its role in maligning the image of the HCW.[4] Stories of over-prescription, abuse of laboratory investigations, cut-backs, foreign trips, acceptance of gifts and cash keep appearing in the media regularly. The assaults on HCW have increased in the recent times because of the negative media marketing and intolerance among the public.[4]

   Legislative and Legal Perspectives Top

A petition directed at the Prime Minister of India has been signed by 81,938 people demanding that “people assaulting HCW should be punished like terrorists.”[5] This is more of an emotional reaction of the helpless HCW than being a solution to the menace of violence-against-HCW the two main issues responsible for violence, not addressed by the petition include:

  1. Lack of quality emergency care for public
  2. Unsafe working environment for HCW in the government hospitals where 1 in 2 doctors have faced violence while working.[6]

HCW, all over India, are demanding legislation for making violence-against-HCW a nonbailable offense. However, it is unlikely that assaults are going to be over with the legislation. Even in a country like the US, a survey done in 2010 showed that one in four nurses reported being assaulted more than twenty times over the past 3 years.[7] A collaborative survey which looked into emergency physicians in India and US concluded that ED workplace violence is common internationally, underreported, and results in poor job satisfaction, workplace fear, and loss of sleep.[8]

The HCW working in EDs face another challenge in India. These workers cannot stop emergency services even in the scenario of an assault by someone as the emergency services maintenance act comes into force, by which, they are liable for disciplinary action. At the same time, there is no act to safeguard HCWs working in an emergency from the brutal assaults and are left to fend for themselves against the public in the heated and hostile environments of Indian ERs.

A diagrammatic analysis is shown in [Figure 1] and [Figure 2]. As shown in [Figure 1], the existing (in blue) and the proposed (in red) actions for the hospitals that can be implemented to reduce the chances of violence in the hospitals.
Figure 1: Causality diagram for violence-against-healthcare worker in India

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Figure 2: A fish bone diagram to identify the probable causes of violence against health-care professionals

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There are many factors which are involved in incidents against HCW, especially those working in emergency services across India as shown in [Table 1] and the proposed solution to tackle these factors as shown in [Table 2].
Table 1: Factors promoting violence against health-care worker in India

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Table 2: The recommendations of the expert group to address the major problems

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   Conclusion Top

If we can have the proposed systems in place then we will surely minimize the chances of violence-against-HCW in India. The prehospital system will deliver the patients to the appropriate National Accreditation Board for Hospital certified hospitals that will be equipped with trained emergency physicians, nurses, and technicians to deal with all kinds of emergencies. The capacity of hospitals to accept a particular number of emergency patients will be displayed live to the prehospital services so that no patient is brought in when the hospital is not ready to receive more patients. The HCW in the hospital will have advance information to receive a particular emergency, and the staff will be ready to receive and stabilize the patient at the door of the hospital. The patient will be provided the airway, breathing, cervical stabilization, and circulatory support by the prehospital teams with a clear flow of information, quick assessments, and decisions in consultation with the emergency rooms (ERs). A complete survey of injuries and diseases will be done in the ERs, and appropriate steps for stabilization will be undertaken. There will be restricted access to a limited number of attendants with the patient. The prognosis will be discussed with the attendants, and the treatment options decided mutually. Disruptive behavior will be identified and reported in a timely manner followed by immediate appropriate steps to prevent violence. These steps have been known to work in other countries toward improvement in emergency care that does reduce the chances of violence against HCW.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Maharashtra: Held for Assault on Doctor in Dhule, Man Found Dead in Police Lock-up. The Indian Express; 2017. Available from: http://www.indianexpress.com/article/india/maharashtra-held-for-assault-ondoctor-in-dhule-man-found-dead-in-police-lock-up-4569355/. [Last cited on 2017 Mar 15].  Back to cited text no. 1
WHO | Workplace Violence. WHO. Available from: http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/injury/work9/en/. [Last cited on 2017 Apr 06].  Back to cited text no. 2
1 in 2 Doctors Face Violence at Public Hospitals: Study – Times of India. The Times of India. Available from: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/1-in-2-doctors-face-violence-at-public-hospitals-study/articleshow/57740477.cms. [Last cited on 2017 Mar 22].  Back to cited text no. 3
Mishra S. Violence against doctors: The class wars. Indian Heart J 2015;67:289-92.  Back to cited text no. 4
Petition Forwarded to MOHFW, But They Say its State Issue. Available from: https://www.change.org/p/shri-narendra-modi-prime-minister-of-india-people-assaulting-doctors-should-be-punished-like-terrorists?source_location=minibar. [Last cited on 2017 Mar 21].  Back to cited text no. 5
Over 75% of Doctors Have Faced Violence at Work, Study Finds – Times of India. Available from: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Over-75-of-doctors-have-faced-violence-at-work-study-finds/articleshow/47143806.cms. [Last cited on 2017 Mar 15].  Back to cited text no. 6
Violence is Symptom of Health Care Dysfunction. Available from: http://www.usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2011-02-02-column02_ST1_N.htm. [Last cited on 2017 Mar 15].  Back to cited text no. 7
Grundmann N, Yohannes Y, Silverberg M, Balakrishnan JM, Krishnan VS, Arquilla B. Workplace violence in the emergency department in India and the United States. Int J Acad Med. [E-ahead of print]. Available from: http://www.ijam-web.org/aheadofprint.asp. [Last cited on 2017 Mar 21].  Back to cited text no. 8


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

  [Table 1], [Table 2]

This article has been cited by
1 Violence Against Healthcare Workers: A Worldwide Phenomenon With Serious Consequences
Sandro Vento,Francesca Cainelli,Alfredo Vallone
Frontiers in Public Health. 2020; 8
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


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