KATHMANDU, Sept 27: OPDs (outpatient departments) at hospitals across the country remained closed for the fifth day Tuesday, affecting thousands of patients.
Nepal Medical Association (NMA), the umbrella organization of medical doctors, has resorted to shutting down the OPD services as part of their protest against a government decision to bring in a law provisioning compensation for patients if they suffer any harm due to negligence on the part of doctors.
According to NMA, three to five million patients visit health facilities throughout the country every day.
Doctors say that there is a high risk of patients in some cases developing complications and even dying if treatment is delayed.
Dr Dhundi Raj Paudel, vice-president of NMA, admitted that complications are caused by delayed treatment.
“The patients are affected by the strike. However, we are ready to treat serious cases through emergency,” he said. “I checked patients today at the government hospital where I work, without registering their names,” he added.
Under medical ethics, patients who come to hospital should get treatment. “The hospital administration staff who register the patients lack the requisite knowledge,” Dr Paudel said. “They should register the patients if their cases are serious.”
The doctors started boycotting OPD services from last Friday.
Relatives and kin have often vandalized private hospitals following the death of patients or the causing of organ damage. Such incidents have occurred at Om Hospital and Manmohan Memorial Hospital recently.
Dr Paudel said that malpractice by doctors sometimes occurs due to lack of knowledge or poor infrastructure and bad sanitation in the hospital. “Some doctors do not keep up to date in their knowledge and this may lead to fatalities. Sometimes, the reaction to medicines creates complications,” he further said, adding, “There are also excellent doctors practicing in the country.”
The NMA officials said a law already exists provisioning a fine of up to Rs 5 million against the hospital in case of malpractice. “We demanded that the government bring a law to protect doctors and hospitals from vandalism,” Dr Paudel added. “We hear that Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba will address our demands after returning from the US. We will withdraw our strike then.”
There are nearly 20,000 doctors registered with the Nepal Medical Council while some 12,000, including about 1,200 in government hospitals, are practicing in the country.