CHENNAI: As many as 40,000 private doctors across Tamil Nadu went on a strike, organised by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Indian Dental Association of Tamil Nadu, on Saturday demanding effective implementation of the Hospital Protection Act in the event of patient deaths. Doctors associated with 3,700 hospitals took part in the stir, while 16,000 government doctors worked wearing black badges. In addition, 3,500 dental practitioners joined the protest. The Tamil Nadu Doctors Association extended its support by staging protests in Chennai, Coimbatore, Nagercoil and Tirunelveli.
A similar strike was held following a fatal attack on a private hospital doctor by a mob a few years ago. During the past six months, at least 40 attacks on hospitals were reported in the State. Hence, the IMA struck work on Saturday seeking protection for doctors.
The Hospitals Protection Act 2008 says that no FIR shall be lodged against a doctor for minor issues and that medical negligence should be proved by a medical practitioner of equal expertise. After his/her report, an FIR can be filed but still the doctor should not be arrested. The Doctors Arrest Prevention (2008) vide GO No. 220 is also disregarded by police who do not adhere to a 2005 Supreme Court ruling which reiterates the same, as officials concerned are not aware of it, said Dr RVS Surendran, State IMA president.
In view of the strike, the State government made arrangements in government hospitals to handle the extra rush of patients. J Radhakrishnan, State health secretary, said, “The Director of Medical Service, Director of Public Health and medical officers were instructed to ensure patient care was not affected.”
The government, meanwhile, convened a meeting on Tuesday with the IMA to discuss sensitising collectors and joint health directors on the Hospitals Protection Act and the Doctors Arrest Prevention (2008) vide GO No. 220. Surendran said the IMA will submit its seven-charter demand to the Health Department at the meeting.