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IMA welcomes Kerala’s Ordinance for protection of doctors

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has welcomed the Ordinance amending the Kerala Healthcare Service Persons and Healthcare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Act, 2012, including deterrent provisions to protect health-care workers and hospitals from violence.

A safe and peaceful work environment is paramount for doctors to work with confidence and give good care to patients. The Ordinance, along with other systemic measures to improve safety in hospitals, will help doctors give quality care to patients, IMA State president N. Sulphi said in a statement here on Wednesday.

The IMA welcomed all the amendments made in the penal provisions in the 2012 Act – imprisonment not less than three months to seven years – and the provisions which fixed a time frame of two months for the police to complete investigations in the event of a violent attack on a doctor or hospital and the government’s proposal to set up special courts in every district to hear cases registered under the Hospital Protection Act.

The IMA demanded that attacks on doctors in cyberspace as well as threats or violence against doctors outside hospital premises should also be brought within the ambit of the Act.

Hospitals becoming conflict zones where doctors have to worry about their safety is a situation that can affect the care of the patient. Doctors who have to constantly fear for their life will not be willing to take any risks to save patients and this will promote “defensive medicine,” it said.

The Ordinance, the IMA hoped, would be promulgated as law without delay. It said that the government should take steps to declare hospitals as safe zones and that all government orders (GOs) issued to improve safety measures in hospitals be implemented without delay.

At the same time, the IMA demanded that the government complete the investigation and take follow-up measures to punish those police officials whose alleged negligence, inaction and lack of concern had resulted in the assault and murder of Vandana Das in Kollam. It demanded that the family of Vandana be given compensation for the loss they had to bear.

It also expressed its gratitude to the Kerala High Court for its timely interventions and decisions to ensure the safety of health-care workers. The Hindu

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