111 510 510 libonline@riphah.edu.pk Contact

IHC asks PMDC for schedule of doctors` working hours

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has asked the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) for the schedule of doctors` working hours at hospitals in the capital.

The council was directed by IHC Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb to file a comprehensive report on doctors` working hours by September.

The court was hearing a petition filed by a doctor through her counsel Raja Saimul Haq Satti that said that doctors in India work 48-hour weeks and even less inWestern countries.

The petition said doctors work in unhygienic conditions and are not provided proper food and safe drinking water. This drains doctors, and many women leave the profession for this reason.

The petition cites the minister for national health services (NHS), the NHS secretary, the chief secretaries of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, the president of the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan, the PMDC, the attorney general of Pakistan and the advocate general of Islamabad as respondents.

The petitioner said that she is a qualified MBBS doctor. She said doctors are made to work 102 hours a week without days off; this includes postgraduate trainees,house ofñcers and medical officers in tertiary care hospitals.

The petitioner said long working hours are damaging to doctors` wellbeing and affect patient care as well. She said doctors` work schedules are unregulated.

Doctors can develop illnesses such asinsomnia because they do not have spaces to nap and are not allowed enough time to socialise out of work, which is a basic human right. The petitioner likened the situation to slavery, saying doctors are made not just to follow a hectic schedule but also with no additional pay.

The petitioner also raised a few questions before the court. She asked if medical professionals, who save lives and require extensive training and study, are included under the definition of `workmen` and therefore could be entitled to benefits under industrial laws, and why if not.

She said that if the answer to this question is yes, what should the `maximum possible duty/working schedule limit` be for medical professionals working in tertiary care hospitals run by the government? She also asked if doctors, who work under great stress, will be responsible for negligence if an incident occurs, or if the head of department, medical superintendents, doctors, vice chancellors of medical universities,postgraduate trainees or house officers will be responsible instead.The petitioner said accidents happen due to doctors` long working hours, which endanger human lives. She said this creates mistrust between doctors and patients, when doctors cannot treat them as well when they are exhausted as this creates the impression that doctors are being wilfully negligent.

She said making doctors work more than 102 hours a week is a violation of fundamental rights and of Article 25 of the Constitution, which calls for equal opportunity in public employment.

The petitioner quoted a study that said residents who work more than 24 hours are 73pc more at risk of needle-stick injuries and 2.3 times more likely to have car accidents. The study says 24 hours without sleep slows reaction time similar to alcohol intoxication.

The petitioner asl(ed the court that governments, medical institutions and universities under the command, control or management of the respondents be required to amend their unlawful rules and regulations for the working schedules of doctors.

Title : IHC asks PMDC for schedule of doctors` working hours
Author : Daily Dawn
Type : News
Role Performer : Corporate Author
Organizing Body : Riphah International University
Subject : Pakistan Medical and Dental Council
Publisher : Daily Dawn
Publication Place : Islamabad
Date : 2019-07-03
Language : English