I am not just a portrait. I represent everything that Bapu stands for. As I hang here in this courtroom wall of the District Civil Court, as well as every single government office that matters; I am witness to the countless tales and arguments that go on in this room. I watch, sometimes with pride and sometimes with disgust as the country Experiments with its truth!

I have seen thousands of times that truth does find it’s justice and an equal number of times that it is murdered. Travesty of justice is not new or shocking to me anymore. But what I am currently witnessing is making me squirm in disgust.

“My Lord, Today’s case is a very unique case. A case that brings into focus what should never have occurred in the first place. It is a shame that this courtroom is witnessing this trial.” Mr. Atre, the legal counsel was making the opening statement.

“My client Mr. Gadre, a renowned Orthopedic surgeon of repute and an Honorary Visiting Faculty at The Mahatma Gandhi Medical College, is pressing charges of Defamation against ‘Awaz’ news channel for filing a false report and causing grave damage to the reputation of my client. Not only reputation, but it has caused immense psychological trauma and monitory damage to his practice.”

“In this same plea, he has also pressed charges against Mr. Deshmukh and his associates for vandalizing his clinic and hospital, causing bodily hurt to himself and his staff.”

 

Awaz channel had aired a story on that fateful morning about Shyam and his ordeal at the hospital. How he had suffered at the hands of the treating doctor and was a victim of apathy and criminal negligence. It had caused loss of his wages and livelihood and It was only because of the intervention of Mr. Deshmukh, the local MLA that he had received justice and his medical expenses waived off.

“Mr. Shyam, tell us what happened to the court on that day of January fourteenth.”

“Sir, I had dropped my last passenger at night by my auto rickshaw. As I was returning home, a dog came in my way and in my attempt to avoid him, my auto rickshaw toppled and I got injured.”

“Ok. So what happened next?” asked Mr. Atre.

“I called my wife. It appeared to me that I had broken my right forearm. She called my friend and they reached the spot in fifteen minutes.”

“It was about one o’ clock that they took me to Gadre hospital. The doctor examined me and told me that It will require surgery to fix the fracture.” Shyam said.

“The Doctor said that he would do the surgery in the morning. It will cost me about forty thousand rupees.”

“What did you do then?” asked Mr. Atre.

“I rang up Mr. Deshmukh who is known to me, as I usually drop his daughter to school. He said he will help me for sure.”

Mr. Deshmukh came to the hospital and met Dr. Gadre, who said he would do the surgery and he agreed to offer a discount for the case as the patient was not affording to foot the bills. Mr. Deshmukh said he would clear the bills and that the doctor should go ahead with the surgery.

 

The surgery was without any hitches. Shyam went home after a week, his hand in plaster. He had a plate in his body which had fixed the broken bone.

 

After ten days when he went to the Doctor again, it was found that his stitches had got infected. It would be required that the wound be resutured.

 

Fair enough, till now it all seemed logical to me. So what happened? I had wondered.

Mr. Atre was now questioning Mr. Deshmukh, “So Mr. Deshmukh, what did you do when you came to know that Shyam’s wound would require resuturing and that he would require more than usual time for recovery?”

“It was very irresponsible on the part of the doctor and the hospital, My Lord. How did it occur? When everything that was supposed to be done, had been done, then how can there be an infection. It means that they had not done their job correctly.”

“You had gone to the hospital and abused the doctor, vandalized the property as well as beaten up the staff. Didn’t you?”

“Do you have any medical knowledge or background? How did you make this assumption, that it was because of negligence that this had resulted? Mr. Deshmukh, you took it for granted and did not stop at this. You filed a case in the Consumer Protection forum and raked up the issue in media as well.” Mr. Atre was now very agitated and was forcefully making his points.

Oh, God. Those days doctors were considered as Gods! Now see what is the state of affairs. They are being beaten up and dragged to courts. Fighting for survival and trying to protect themselves! I wonder how they would be finding it difficult to take unbiased and fair decisions. As much as the government is responsible, they are also partly to blame. The mismanagement of healthcare in the country is everybody’s responsibility, and they are also the ones who should be self-regulating.

 

Mr. Nemade, the defense lawyer of Mr. Deshmukh and Awaj channel now was presenting their witness, Mr. Chaterjee who was the reporter. “Please tell the court what you reported and how you brought out the wrongdoings at the hospital of Mr. Gadre.”

Mr. Chaterjee began, “ I got a call from Mr. Deshmukh and we rushed to the site. We had found that there was mismanagement of the case. The victim was subjected to careless treatment, his wound had got infected, maybe because he was poor. It had resulted in a loss to him and his family. We will not tolerate this kind of medical negligence in the community. So we ran a story on this issue.”

Mr. Atre rose to cross the witness. “Did you have any proof of medical negligence or irresponsible handling of the case? Did you check the facts before running the story?”

“The result was there for all to see. The patient was in agony. He was not well. His wound had got infected. Isn’t that proof enough? They had hired the doctor for doing the job. He did not do it properly. Hence the result.”

“You ran a media campaign against Dr. Gadre, at the behest of Mr. Deshmukh who happens to be your sponsor also incidentally. You did not consult any medical authorities about the medical condition. Wound infection is a known complication of surgery, more so after an accident.”

“Mr. Deshmukh had filed a case in the Consumer Protection forum, claiming negligence and asking for compensation. He has lost that case and the forum dismissed the case after the opinion of the duly constituted medical committee.” Mr. Atre blasted Mr. Chaterjee.

The elected representatives are hand in glove with the media. They are scratching each other’s back. They are using each other for personal gain. The medical fraternity is now caught up in this crossfire. This kind of scene in a courtroom was never heard off. But now it is common. I used to hear stories about this in the Western world. But it has finally hit our country too..sooner than expected!

Mr. Atre now had risen for the concluding statement, “My Lord, this is a perfect case wherein the doctor and the medical establishment has been made a scapegoat for the personal political agenda of the accused. The media channel went on with him due to vested interest and sensationalism. The Doctor became the soft target. The patient became a pawn in the game. And by the way, the Doctor has not received any payment till date. He has done everything for the patient. Operated on him, managed his infected wound. Got him back on track in life. And is now wasting his time, energy and money in fighting this case.”

“I request you take a strong stand and punish the guilty. This kind of physical and social violence against the medial fraternity should not go unpunished. I request you to take the strongest possible action against the accused and sentence him with maximum possible punishment. With that, I rest my case.”

Very strong words indeed. I was now wondering what the Judge is going to do. Will he believe what the Doctor and his team are saying or will he go with the Accused and side with the patient and his defendants.

Mr. Nemade rose to make his final defense. “My Lord, this case is nothing but a grave injustice thrust upon an innocent patient who unfortunately happened to be poor. It was only because of the intervention of my client Mr. Deshmukh that the patient was given treatment. If he had not intervened the Doctor may not have taken the case in the first place. It was because of all the hue and cry by the media channel that the poor and hapless victim found justice and was treated by Dr. Gadre. There is no truth in his case and my client should be set free of all charges and I, in fact, request that a case be filed against the doctor and hospital for causing so much pain and agony to the victim, Mr. Shyam. Thank you, My Lord. I rest my case.”

 

The ball now rested in the Judge’s court. As always he had to take a call and defend the truth. I had made up my mind and knew what I thought. But I am hanging here on the wall. It’s not my call to make.

 

The judge was giving his verdict now…

“It is sad to watch the basic pillars of this nation, who should be working in tandem with each other are after each other’s throat. Mr. Deshmukh, who is an elected representative of the people took law in his own hands. He is a lawmaker and should be respecting it the most, but sad that he has crossed his brief. Power has corrupted his judgment. Even if the hospital and doctor had been at fault, which later was found to be incorrect; he should have acted and supported the patient staying in the confines of the law.”

“And the media showed the most irresponsible behavior. For the sake of profiteering and political favoritism, it has gone ahead and published a story which has caused so much harm and damage to the image of Dr. Gadre. It deserves condemnation and punishment to the maximum.”

“At the same time, the medical fraternity needs to understand that people’s trust and faith are somewhat wavering; albeit due to the policies and unbridled commercialization and corporatization of once a noble profession. Their professional bodies must act in unison and must restore the faith of common people.”

“I sentence Mr. Deshmukh and Mr. Chatterjee to two months of rigorous imprisonment and six months of charitable work, which they will spend in a District Civil hospital, helping the patients, the doctors, and staff of the hospital. They will also be fined Rs. Five lakhs each for traumatizing and defaming the doctor.”

#say no to violence against doctors

Ghosh K. Violence against doctors: A wake-up call. Indian J Med Res. 2018;148(2):130–133. doi:10.4103/ijmr.IJMR_1299_17

Link to the article:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6206759/

Conclusion from this article:

Although violence against doctors and other health workers is not uncommon, the incidence in India seems to be increasing. Many remedies have been advised to tackle this situation, some of those are discussed here. As there are certain responsibilities of doctors and other healthcare workers, similarly, responsibilities also have to be borne by patients and their relatives, political parties, hospital authorities, law maintaining machinery, media and government to see that health care improves and violence against doctors is strongly dealt with. There is a need for a detailed longitudinal study across the country to understand the prevalence, nature and regional differences in violence perpetrated against doctors in this country. An ongoing study by Indian Medical Association (IMA) reports that 75 per cent of doctors in India have faced violence at some point of time in their life, and most of the time, it is verbal abuse. Emergency and ICU are the most violent venues and visiting hours is the most violent time. There is no reason to wait now to stop this violence against doctors and take preventive measures.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/in-india-75-doctors-face-violence-at-work/story-q4DHnIdhSIkwxZ9GQSyBgN.html

Image credit : Photo by Piron Gillaume : Unsplash

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Thanks for reading.

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