Days after the fire in Ahmednagar civil hospital in which 11 Covid patients died, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has strongly demanded the immediate release a student doctor and all nurses booked for culpable homicide and causing death by negligence. It has demanded that the state government should commence a threadbare study on this incident with the objective to formulate practical guidelines to prevent such incidents in the future.
The IMA said doctors, nurses, and paramedical staff in Ahmednagar are strongly protesting against the unwarranted arrests. “IMA extends its complete support to this agitation for justice and stands firm against any such unjust, unfair dealing with medical professionals and nurses,” said IMA national president Dr JA Jayalal and honorary national secretary Dr Jayant Lele in a joint statement.
“While specialised departments like fire, electricity and PWD exist in all government institutions, action against doctors and nurses is nothing but swaying away from responsibilities by the machinery. Mechanisms of fire audit, maintenance and firefighting are allocated responsibilities of these departments undoubtedly. Why should doctors and nurses be treated as scapegoats just to project some action?” asked IMA.
The IMA said if doctors and nurses can be arrested without any complete enquiry and be slapped with responsibilities that they are not accountable for, it speaks volumes about the system. “Conducting fire audits, electrical audits at regular intervals is the responsibility of the specific departments in the system,” he added.
According to the IMA, instead of knee-jerk reactions, it is time for all stakeholders concerned to audit the safety norms on physical infrastructure, violence prevention, and ensure adequate funds for the upkeep and maintenance of equipment to ensure patient safety. When such fire incidents take place in private hospitals, the owners of the hospitals are taken into the task by the authorities; however, in government hospitals, the unfortunate postgraduate student doctor and nurses are arrested and put in jail, it said.
IMA has suggested that the fire department should create feasible and implementable norms and not just sit upon the impractical and non-implementable norms to get a fire license in busy and crowded metropolitan cities.