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Lecture on behaviour

Senior doctors asked their junior colleagues at SSKM Hospital on Thursday to be polite with patients, underscoring the rampant complaints of misbehaviour in state-run healthcare units and the widening physician-patient communication gap.

The most common complaint has been doctors behaving rudely with relatives of critical patients.

“You must communicate properly with the relatives of a patient. Even a simple information from you can end hours of anxiety,” said Pradip Mitra, director of the Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research-SSKM, at a workshop on stress management and communication skills for MBBS students. More than 100 students attended the programme.

The workshop has been organised barely a fortnight after south Calcutta homemaker Madhumita Halder’s left leg came under the wheels of a bus and she was shunted from one government hospital to another. It has been alleged that junior doctors at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital misbehaved with her husband.

Relatives had often complained that doctors seldom inform them about the condition of their patient even after a critical surgery.

Mitra illustrated the anxiety that relatives face when a cardiac patient is wheeled into an operating theatre or treatment room. “When relatives are waiting outside for hours, they are eager to know the condition of the patient. Someone should update them.”

“Senior doctors must behave and set examples for the juniors,” Mitra said.

Health officials admitted that bad behaviour and lack of communication have become as big a problem as turning away critical patients because of shortage of beds.

“A patient could be well immediately after surgery but post-operative complications can develop the next day. This information does not reach the patient’s family. We must ensure that it does by meeting them at least once everyday,” said a doctor of SSKM Hospital.

“The behaviour of junior doctors is another problem,” said Sushanta Banerjee, the director of medical education.

Protest

SSKM Hospital students and junior doctors on Thursday participated in a march from the hospital to Birla Planetarium to protest the alleged police assault on junior doctors in Kanpur last Friday.