More than 90,000 attacks on doctors in Turkey in last 10 years – why? What’s being done to stop it?
The Turkish Doctors Association demands the authorities protect doctors from life threatening risks during work. The association addressed the authorities with this demand after relatives of a patients attacked medical staff at an Ankara hospital.
On September 22 two were hospitalized with bullet wounds in an Ankara hospital. The doctors were unable to save the life of one of the wounded. Right after that some ten people – relatives of the deceased including his wife, began smashing everything in the hospital they could get their hands on. The angry mob attacked the medical staff. Hospital security guards were unable to stop the violent visitors.
To protect themselves and other patients from the attackers, medical staff barricaded themselves in the reanimation department. Relatives of the deceased patient continued breaking the doors and smashing medical equipment until the police arrived.
Five participants of the disorder were detained, the court kept in two of them in custody. An investigation is being carried out.
Minister of Healthcare Fahrettin Koca met with the medical staff who experienced the attack. “Together with the entire medical community of the country, we regret what happened and are determined to control this issue”, the minister wrote on his Twitter.
Over 90,000 cases of violence during the past 10 years
Attacks on behalf of relatives of patients on doctors and other medical staff as well as disorders in hospitals is quite a frequent occurrence in Turkey. Media publish news of such accidents almost daily.
According to the report of the union of family doctors of Turkey, during the past ten years over 90,000 attacks on medical staff on behalf of relatives of the patients were registered in the entire country. 60 percent of all Turkish medical staff have been exposed to such violence at least ten times.
Union representative, professor of medicine Akpinar, says that medical staff who experience such violence often refuse to protect themselves via legal ways:
“The reason why many of them don’t address lawyers for help is the futility of these attempts. Cases are registered, evidence is provided, statements are written. A law suit starts, and there is no result. 64.7 percent of medical staff don’t believe they can achieve any result through legal ways. Legislation in this sphere needs improvement”, he said.
Laws becoming stronger
In fact, the Criminal Code of Turkey has a special article on violence against medical staff. In April 2020 the parliament even adopted amendments making punishment for such actions stronger.
According to these amendments, term of incarceration is increased 1.5 times for attack, injuring, threats, insults, and obstruction of work of medical staff when performing their responsibilities in public and non-governmental medical institutions.
20 years of imprisonment for injuring a doctor
These amendments to the legislation began giving results. On September 23, court passed a strict decision against a person who injured a doctor in Izmir.
On October 16, 2019 Bayram Kaynak injured a doctor with a razor to the neck in one of Izmir clinics, as he was displeased with his treatment. Thanks to a timely interference of colleagues, the doctor’s life was saved.
Prosecutor demanded imprisonment of 13 to 20 years for the offender Kaynak. Judge chose the strongest option – the man will spend all of the 20 years in jail.
“No to violence in healthcare!”
The accident in the metropolitan hospital Kecioren caused enormous anger in the society. Doctors and regular citizens express their opinion in social media under the hashtag #SağlıktaŞiddeteHayır (“#No to violence in healthcare”).
One of the citizens wrote in their Twitter:
“I think it’s atrocious to inflict such horror on medical staff who risk their life due to the pandemic, are excluded from social life, can’t meet with their close ones, or even just go home”.