Doctors, as well as nurses, have a simple task to do – to help mankind. The medical staff personalizes a Godly figure on Earth, especially during these pandemic times. They can save people. They can perform miracles. They can do something which no one else can do. However, there are cases when things are not in their control, and some mishappenings occur, yet they become a victim of assault simply because they could not save someone else’s loved ones. A question then arises – can nurses or doctors press charges against a patient? The answer varies depending on different situations.
Can a nurse press charges against a patient?
Suppose a patient that visits a doctor is mentally not fit. He has no control over his actions. At the clinic, he does something which is not considered normal by society, which disrupts the sanctity of the clinic. Can the nurse or the doctor attending the patient press charges against him? It would be morally incorrect for them to do so, given that they understand what mentally unstable people go through, and hence they would simply overlook the matter as if it was a normal day at work.
What happens when a patient hits a nurse?
On the other hand, imagine a hypothetical scenario where a patient with mild fever, who is normal mentally, and has full control over his actions as well as emotions, visits a doctor’s chamber, and the doctor advises him complete bed rest, and a nurse to look after him. Back at home, while the nurse is attending him, he begins thinking that the doctor has fooled him and that the doctor is trying to loot him, and in the process, he tries to assault the nurse taking care of him. What legal aspect does the nurse go through then? In such a condition, the nurse is both legally and personally eligible to approach the court of law and press charges against the patient because her only job was to look after the patient and not a source of guarantee to determine whether the patient will be cured or not.
Cases like these would often tend to be won by the medical side (unless the pieces of evidence produced in the Court of Law prove otherwise) because no sane mind would dare to assume that a doctor or a nurse would ever have an intention to harm somebody.
Moreover, in most cases, the management or the hospital presses charges against the patient on behalf of their staff, given that they have established that the patient is mentally normal and had the intention to cause harm. Whether the patient destroys hospital equipment, insults hospital staff or doctors or nurses, or assaults the medical team, the management would come up on behalf of the staff.
A few medical violence cases:
Examples of medical violence are not uncommon. Taking India as an example, there were several villages where cases of villagers pelting stones on doctors were seen, who had come there to test for the presence of Coronavirus on the villagers. Similarly, there were several violent attacks on vaccination centers by those who opposed vaccinations. Talk about violent police actions on doctors protesting on the streets. The doctors and nurses do become victims of many violent attacks. It becomes difficult for them to penalize anyone because why not? After all, they all had taken the solemn oath of not causing harm to anyone.
To press charges or not, that is the question. It often becomes a difficult choice for mentally unstable patients to decide. One might give an opinion that doing so might be driving away their human rights, while the other might opine that doing so may teach them that assaulting people has consequences and can lead them to trouble in the future, which forces them to think rationally, hoping that they can get cured. (In a way, they would think about the patient too).
Furthermore, it would be opposing for a nurse to “care” for someone while in a hospital but at the same time would wish bad for someone at a place of justice. Often so, these decisions come with a sob of guilt. For this reason, many medical professionals have accepted such violence as part and parcel of their job. Who is to blame here? The doctor or nurse who did not do the treatment properly? Certainly not. Why on earth would a doctor not do the treatment properly. That is what their job is all about. Should we blame the patient/the patient’s family for resorting to violence? Again a tough call because the assaulting patient might be going through a lot, and that he might not even be conscious of his actions. Similarly, the patients might assault due to outbursts of emotions, not because they intentionally meant to do so.
Keeping the workplace safe is the basic minimum level of security that one expects from their employer. Hence it also depends a lot on the management to have adequate facilities to tackle cases like these – may be by setting dedicated Violence Unit Staffs or anything on the lines of it, to take swift actions in such cases. At the end of the day, if no one would respond to the nurses’ or the doctors’ calls, why would they even call the next time?
What to do if a patient gets violent?
It is often terrifying for a medical professional to be assaulted by a patient simply because they never expected to be hit by them. Their sole intention was to help them. We have to remember that doctors and nurses often run on a very tight schedule, and sometimes they have to make decisions very quickly. Any cases like these might disturb their mental peace, and this would be the worst thing on their list for a medic. We have to remember that they need help too, sometimes, and being with them in such times can boost their morale to a great extent. Thus, they need to be counseled diligently and must report on what happened exactly, just so that they are experienced and ready to face whatever comes next on their way. Who knows, after having a bad experience with one patient, the patient in the next room might have an even worse condition? It is highly unpredictable, and maintaining mental peace in such conditions can be very difficult. Before calling the end of the day, the least that a medic would expect is to sleep peacefully, without thinking, and keep the tension at bay.