HYDERABAD: While the country is still reeling from the news about the Disha rape and murder case, it seems nurses working during night shifts, especially in government hospitals, have to choose their ethical obligation over their personal safety while caring for patients.
Speaking to nurses from across the city, Express learnt that night-duty nurses face at least one case of verbal abuse, manhandling, groping or eve-teasing by inebriated attendants of patients. Most of the time, the nurses are forced to ignore these instances as patients require their immediate attention in emergency wards.
A nurse from Niloufer Hospital, on condition of anonymity said, “Being harassed — sexually or otherwise — by patients’ attendants is incredibly common. Everyday at least one nurse faces such an issue. Usually, during late night hours, patients of drunken driving or similar such incidents come to the hospital. We get harassed by the patient’s kin or attendants who are also in an inebriated condition. Usually nurses are the first line of contact, and thus, we take the majority of the brunt of such manhandling.”
She also explained, “Younger nurses end up being exposed to these situations as for night duty, nurses below the age of 40 are deputed.”
Another nurse explained, “Most of the time, nurses have to work in emergency wards for night duty. We do not even have time to comprehend the actions of these people. We end up ignoring the jibes, the verbal abuse or jeers because the patient needs immediate attention. Only if it takes a turn for the worse, for example, manhandling or harassment, we raise an alarm or complain. Usually, the matter is handled internally, with the help of the superintendent or special protection force on campus.”
She also added, “We do not file complaints with the police. The security personnel counsel and reprimand the accused and let them go. Previously, they were handled harshly, now that the Telangana police has become ‘people friendly’, even the accused are not properly reprimanded, just warned and counselled.” The nurses’ claims check out as officers at Nampally and Punjagutta police stations, under whose jurisdiction Niloufer and NIMS come, said that, they have not filed any such cases or received complaints in the last couple of years.
Dr B Nagender, superintendent, Osmania General Hospital said, “I personally haven’t received any such complaints, but we have security guards along with female staff and RMOs on night rounds. If such a case arises, the nurses raise the issue with the lady doctors. However, we maintain tight security.”