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Female doctors sexually harassed during electronic consultations, websites try to hide it | India News

Websites offering 24/7 doctor consultations have become sites for sexual harassment of female doctors, with ‘patients’ showing off, masturbating, or lewd conversations under the guise of looking for a query.
Rather than report these incidents to the police and ensure that action is taken against sexual harassers, websites have tried to keep it a secret and have taken some steps to verify such incidents, with little success.
The regulations notified in May this year stipulate that in the telemedicine consultation “both the patient and the registered doctor (RMP) must know the identity of the other.” This is not followed by most of the websites. In fact, most boast that within seconds or minutes after registering and paying, you can contact a doctor for a consultation.
Patients register with several different identification numbers and use them to harass female doctors. Male patients register as female, and doctors often realize this only after starting to take a call. If the ‘patient’ is blocked after harassing a doctor, they go on to target other doctors on the site, as the sites have done little or nothing to identify those callers and block them or file formal complaints of sexual harassment. With a monthly plan of just a few hundred rupees, depending on the application and the type of service you have chosen, most websites offer either unlimited free consultations or a limited number of free consultations per day.
“It is very traumatic, especially the first time it happened. Most of these calls happen at night, so we have now asked the company to have mostly male doctors on duty at night. They have also stopped allowing unlimited consultation calls for a monthly subscription. That has reduced the number of calls we face, ”said a doctor.
Whether it is Practo, an early entrant in the field of teleconsultation, or a later entrant like Dhani, a teleconsulting company started by India Bulls, doctors working for these companies have faced sexual harassment from patients in a way. regular. Although physicians are confident that identification documents have been made mandatory for patients seeking to use teleconsultation services, there appears to be no scrutiny of what is being uploaded and none of the websites reflects that the standards for the query are stricter.
There have even been cases of groups of men calling a doctor and speaking inappropriately or making vulgar gestures. In some cases, bullies harassed them on social media such as Facebook and Instagram, sending them friend requests and asking for personal numbers, forcing them to change the privacy settings of their accounts.
“This cannot be normalized as part of our work. Now we are more careful and we can detect when a person is not a genuine patient and immediately cut the call, block the person and inform the company. But we shouldn’t have to put up with this. For a call that doesn’t result in a prescription, they don’t even pay us commission, ”said a doctor who works for Dhani. Dhani pays doctors monthly salaries of Rs 40,000-45,000 plus commissions for each visit that generates a prescription. In Practo, doctors receive Rs 64 for each visit.
A spokesperson for Dhani said that Dhani’s healthcare is a new product and that things would be fixed in a month, but expressed inability to issue a formal statement on the matter. Practo responded to TOI inquiries stating that it has a zero tolerance policy towards misconduct and harassment of any nature and that “all patient accounts are verified by the OTP and that the app has a built in feature to ensure that abusive patients are immediately marked by the doctor. ”OTP verification simply confirms that the patient accesses the number given by the patient, but does not confirm the identity of the person, a doctor noted.

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