Penalty, jail for attacks on doctors

By Samuel Kutty — MUSCAT: APRIL 19 – Attacks or abuse against doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff will invite fine and jail, the Ministry of Health said.“You will be legally accountable in accordance with Articles of 172 and 173 of Omani penal code for assault, verbally or physically, on employees in healthcare institutions”, the ministry says in its campaign note.
According to Article 172 of Omani penal code, anyone who assaults an official during the time discharging his/her duty shall be sentenced to RO 500 or serve the more severe sentence applicable according to the crime.
Article 173 stipulates, “anyone who affronts an official with gestures or outrageous outbursts publicly against an official during his/her official function shall be sentenced to 10 days or six months”.
Referring to the campaign note at healthcare centres, an official said, “The government is committed to improving safety and security in our hospitals and health services and
will not tolerate any kind of violence against the staff and health practitioners”.
The caring role of the healthcare workers should be respected, he said.
A note at Ruwi health centre reads, “the workers in this institution do their best capabilities according to the available resources to provide you with the best services for your satisfaction”.
It has been a long cry by health practitioners about experiences of physical or verbal abuse by patients and their relatives.
“Facilities or practices where health services are provided should be safe for their providers. The note sends a clear message to ensure that everyone is fully aware that violence will not be tolerated”, said a doctor working at the emergency department of a private hospital.
While being grabbed or pulled are the most common physical assault, some of them resort to abuses, threats of attacks outside the workplace and yelling. A specific law would have a powerful deterrent effect on this, he said.
Emergency rooms are the worst hit, said another doctor and a nurse univocally.
“They want fast services even when they visit busy emergency rooms. When they don’t get it, some lash out. They forget that the emergency department sees the patients according to priority,” they said.
In many cases, doctors face anger from people for not getting sick leave. “If the doctor doesn’t sanction the leave as demanded by the person in question, he resorts to all kinds of assaults”, said a doctor in Ruwi. There are instances when the police and security personnel had to be called in, he said.
Sick leave is officially granted to employees in case of sudden illness, which, however, must be proved by producing a medical certificate.
“The fact is that the unruly behaviour of some patients and their relatives leave many health staff traumatised, with many having to take time off work to recover, both emotionally and physically”, said the doctor.

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