After several rounds of agitation by doctors, Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital on Thursday put in place measures to protect the premises from attack by agitated relatives of patients.

At the premier institution, doctors went on strike twice this year, once on January 5 and 6 and again from June 2 to June 6, demanding that they be protected from the kin of patients who damage not only hospital property but also prevent doctors from performing their duties.

On May 28, an accident victim who was admitted to the hospital succumbed to injuries despite treatment. Angry relatives blamed the doctors for the death. Again on June 2, a postgraduate medical student was manhandled by a group of men when the doctor went to treat the patient. Both incidents occurred in the trauma care ward 201.

After Saturday's incident, junior doctors refused to be pacified and demanded enforcement of Hospital Protection Act and legal action against those who prevented the doctors from performing their duty. On June 4, the Tamil Nadu Government Doctors' Association began expressing interest in joining the protest, deepening the crisis. The doctors called off their strike only after Health Minister V.S. Vijay assured them that action would be taken against those who manhandled the PG student and that the doctors' demands that hospitals be declared protected zones. The Minister also assured the striking doctors that only one attendant would be allowed per patient.

GH Dean V. Kanakasabai said, “We have displayed the gist of Hospital Protection Act in simple language in sensitive areas like trauma and surgical emergency ward (201), medical emergency ward (206), trauma ortho ward (205), casualty (202), intensive medical care unit (212) and toxicology ward (211).”

The hospital is making efforts to fix 25 cameras in these areas with a central monitor in the Dean's office. It has proposed to erect iron barricades at ward 201, “where the unpleasant things happened repeatedly.”

Police security with seven policemen and one Sub-Inspector round the clock have been posted in wards 201, 205 and 206 in addition to the hospital's own security guards. “We have already restricted movement of patient attendants since Saturday after the agitation. We are taking steps to issue passes for attendants,” he said.

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R. SujathaJune 28, 2012

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