On the Patient, Medic and Attendant Relationship

On the Patient, Medic and Attendant Relationship
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An attendant of a patient has been allegedly beaten up by some staff at SKIMS. This, if true, and if accruing from unprovoked grounds, is uncalled for and should be dealt with in a fair and a just manner. The incident points to and drives attention to the larger issue(relationship) of patient, attendant and medical staff of hospitals in Kashmir. The nature of this relationship is fraught and defined by tension which is to state the obvious. Because patients and their attendants are a worried lot which is quite a normal and a natural condition. (This is all the more poignant when patients need critical care and attention). On the other hand, doctors and medical staff and their assistants are under pressure and stress. Given these conditions , at odds and at cross purposes with each other, conflict is but inevitable which, at times, like the case in contention, can turn violently ugly. The larger issue then is that of a supply and demand mismatch between the demand of health services and their supply. While this issue cannot be addressed overnight, but the immediate issue of patient, attendant and medics’ relationship can be dealt with without the problem of resource constraints and other allied factors. This particular issue is then that of hospital administration. In the realm of immediacy what can be done is sensitization of staff toward patients and their attendants. Not a Herculean task, this can be done by reassuring patients plus their attendants that they are not being deliberately ignored and that they would be attended to according to need and in the hierarchy of critical care patients. Second, what can also be done is to develop robust and responsive grievance departments in hospitals that can with due fairness address issues of negligence and allied issues. These grievance cells must not be for merely name; they must be functional and should disburse their remit equitably and fairly. Third, internal reviews must be carried out in terms of administrative efficiency on a regular basis and processes streamlined so that inertia does not set in. Last, patients and their attendants must also realize that doctors, medics and staff are overburdened in public hospitals; they must communicate their issues and problems to those in charge of hospitals, especially their front line staff, in a positive and clear tone and not rudely. Cumulatively, the adoption of these measures, with sincerity of purpose, can go ways, in ameliorating the doctor, medics, patient and the attendant relationship.