Medico-legal protocol: Doctors demand hassle-free medical examination process
The IMA is demanding a long-term solution to address the issue. They propose the establishment of a dedicated cadre to handle all medico-legal cases in every district.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In the midst of the state government’s efforts to revise the medico-legal protocol, doctors have urged the police to limit the number of individuals brought in for medical examinations at once. Even if the police bring five persons simultaneously, it takes a minimum of three hours for doctors to conduct the examinations and issue medical certificates. This delay disrupts the functioning of busy casualty and outpatient departments.
The individuals brought in for medical examinations compete for the attention of doctors, who are already attending to patients in need of emergency care. The extended wait for medical attention can understandably anger patients. “Due to such delays, doctors have been subjected to violence on numerous occasions. It is imperative for the system to change,” said Dr K Prathiba, a special invitee to the meeting convened by the home department to modify the medico-legal protocol. She further suggested that the police discourage bringing individuals booked for non-serious cases for medical examination at night, especially when there is only one female doctor available.
Dr Prathiba played a pivotal role in implementing a new protocol for the medical examination of individuals under police custody last year. Despite practical difficulties faced by the police in altering the existing practice, doctors stressed the need for a system that ensures the smooth functioning of hospitals. “Doctors find themselves in a dilemma as they cannot keep police personnel waiting while ignoring other patients. The police should inform the hospital or staff nurse in advance about the number of persons to be brought in for examination. This will help the medical staff make necessary preparations,” stated Dr Sulphi N, state president, IMA.
The IMA is demanding a long-term solution to address the issue. They propose the establishment of a dedicated cadre to handle all medico-legal cases in every district. “Each district should have at least two units with forensic surgeons responsible for medico-legal cases. These should be located near the casualty to promptly address emergencies. Additionally, the units can also attend to accused in POCSO and rape cases,” Dr Sulphi said.
The IMA also recommends that patients brought in by the police or those exhibiting violent behaviour should undergo scrutiny in a designated area at the triage centre before being attended to by a health worker. “Provisions should be made, if necessary, to secure violent patients to a wheelchair prior to the medical examination. We can adopt these practices followed in other countries,” added Dr Sulphi.
Expressing satisfaction with the modifications proposed by the home department to ensure the safety of healthcare workers, the IMA is keen on implementing the new medico-legal protocol. This comes after a tragic incident in which a young doctor was killed by a violent patient during a check-up at a taluk hospital in Kollam on May 10. The High Court had directed the police to take necessary measures to safeguard the well-being of healthcare workers from attacks in hospitals. The case is scheduled to be heard by the bench on June 8.