| The members of Indian Medical Association outside the office of senior superintendent of police in Patna on Wednesday. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
Charges of sexual harassment were levelled against Ramesh Singh, a doctor in the surgery department of Nalanda Medical College, two years ago.
Similar charges were levelled against Choupal, private practitioner, three years ago.
An associate professor of Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences nursing college filed a sexual harassment petition against IGIMS director Arun Kumar last year.
Such back-to-back allegations of sexual harassment against doctors have unnerved professionals. Rajiv Ranjan Prasad, president, state chapter of IMA, said: “Doctors are more prone to such allegations because during the treatment they have to touch various parts of a patient’s body. While doing this, their hands should be like those of God. However, it would be too early to say that the charges are true. But such cases somehow indicate that we also need to correct ourselves by behaving decently with patients.”
A.K. Thakur, former president, state chapter of IMA, also admitted that doctors have become more vulnerable to the charges of sexual harassment.
“We (doctors) have become soft target. Even in Charak Samhita, an ancient book dealing with medical science, you would find this written that a patient cannot trust his/her father, mother, brother, sister or any member of his/her family but he/she can rely completely on his/her doctor. The patient completely surrenders himself/herself to a doctor. As doctors have no type of protection, they have become vulnerable to these kinds of charges.”
Ajay Kumar, general secretary, Bihar Health Services Association, said most of the times it is media which, misrepresents facts. “It happens in the case of Amar Kant Jha Amar, principal, Patna Medical College ,” said Kumar.
Members of the medical association, however, admitted that in most of the cases of sexual harassment, it was found that doctors did not follow the necessary guidelines. “According to the rule, there should be a lady attendant or a lady nurse when a male doctor examines a lady patient but male doctors take this rule for granted ,” said Prasad.
Thakur added that measures like installing CCTV cameras and hiring extra staff could be taken but it would ultimately increase the treatment charge. He also claimed that of 100, there was a possibility that only 0.01 per cent case of sexual harassment levelled against doctors were genuine.
The IMA members said the organisation had no power to take any action against such a doctor also. “Only the MCI and Bihar Council of Medical Registration can take action against the erring doctors,” said Parasd.