ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Wounded Healers

Evidence points out that physicians in training who work for extended hours remain at great risk of injuring patients or themselves. Being motivated by the best intentions is not enough; they need to be given adequate rest. The time to regulate work hours is long overdue.

The disease burden in a fast developing nation like India is naturally enormous. With growing population, the need for more doctors is imperative. Since 1947 we have not been able to counter the load of patients turning out at outpatient departments and the number of doctors remains grossly insufficient to strike this balance.

Irrespective of popular governments, the percentage of gross domestic product spent on healthcare in India has never crossed 3%. The Government of Karnataka has recently passed a legislation to make it compulsory for government doctors to work in rural areas. This was justified to meet the shortage of doctors as well as a response to the refusal of junior doctors to work in rural areas. Whether it is correct to expose junior doctors to resource-constraint settings and make the rural populace a party to social experimentation is a different issue. But with crumbling infrastructure, questionable security protection for doctors, especially for female doctors, and problematic pro-poor budgeting, Indias public health is, no doubt, in crisis. The working hours of postgraduate trainees and house surgeons call for a serious introspection, which has so far been neglected by the regulatory bodies.

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