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Patient Grievance Redressal Mechanism

Necessity or Boaster in India?

The traditional outlook of Indian patients has changed dramatically from doctor being considered as fatherly figure to doctors being considered as businessmen eager to make profit. One of the reasons for this drastic change in the outlook is the negative publicity by media. Across the world, the role of media portraying doctors as villains has added to the woes of the doctors. A survey was conducted by the National Library of Medicine, USA to understand the type of stories of the doctors circulated in media. The survey was conducted of premier newspapers of USA i.e. the Daily TelegraphGuardian, andDaily Mail. The result of the survey was that these newspapers contained more than twice as many negative stories about doctors as positive ones. Also, the total number of articles about doctors has increased over time. 

This negative publicity of the doctors has led to the patients looking doctor with suspicion and the entire process of treatment coming under intense scrutiny by the patient family. It leads to questions related to the line of treatment, treatment cost, referrals, diagnostic tests and other aspect of treatment of the patient. When the patient does not get satisfying answers to his queries from his own sources they get dissatisfied by the treatment. The patient family becomes angry and disappointed and slowly they start harping negative thoughts against the doctor and hospital. After certain time during the treatment process this anger explodes in many forms which include verbal abuse against the doctor and hospital, medico-legal case, police complaint and the worst form is violence against the doctor and hospital.

To nip the grievance of the patient in the bud itself it is the need of the hour that every hospital has a patient grievance redressal mechanism. The role of the redressal mechanism should be to satisfactorily answer each and every question raised by the patient. A laudable move in this direction has been taken by the Kozhikode district unit of IMA in Kerala.  The Kozhikode district IMA said that patients and their caregivers had often highlighted the lack of a system to air their grievances related to various aspect of treatment. Through this proposed patient grievance redressal system, both the patients and their caregivers would be able to communicate their concerns to hospital representatives. To conclude the initiative of the IMA Kozhikode is a necessity which will have a positive long-term impact on the doctors-patient relationship and will ensure that the violence against doctors is nipped at the bud.

Dr. Bhushan Kedari