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No reason to assault doctors, nurses

Assaulting doctors and nurses either verbally or physically when patients do not improve or do not get their way is shameful at best and criminal at worst (IMH patient's dad jailed for hitting doctor; Nov 28).

All patients have their rights, but a guaranteed cure or exclusive treatment is not one of them. Doctors can only try their best to heal patients and assuage the pain of disease. Where doctors have been criminally negligent, proper recourse is available.

Recent rulings by the Singapore Medical Council and the courts have made it plain that there is no official cover-up of any medical negligence. If anything, the benefit of the doubt, in many instances, has gone to the patient.

Medical staff are vulnerable when they are performing their duties. It is hard to ensure their safety from assault. Attacks can come at any time and from anywhere, without provocation.

Providing hired muscle and having a large security force is not what doctors and hospitals are meant for.

What medical personnel can do is to always maintain professional integrity, be genuinely empathetic and sympathetic, communicate effectively and patiently without convoluted jargon, and not be arrogant.

If medical professionals want dignity restored to us, we must conduct ourselves in a dignified manner, too.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 03, 2017, with the headline 'No reason to assault doctors, nurses'. Print Edition | Subscribe