PG medical student found dead in Tamil Nadu: Long duty hours to blame?

The medical fraternity has been facing the brunt of a toxic work culture, long duty hours, stipend issues and harassment for quite some time
Pic credits: Edex Live
Pic credits: Edex Live

"This is not how we wanted to end the year 2023...by receiving the news of another young postgraduate medico's death," said Dr Keerthy Varman M, General Secretary of Tamil Nadu Resident Doctors Association (TNRDA) and former president of Tamil Nadu Medical Students Association (TNMSA). As per Varman, Dr Thamizh Azhagan, PG medico from Thanjavur Medical College was found dead in his duty room on December 30, allegedly due to a massive myocardial infarction. 

It is reported that the medico was on continuous duty for over 24 hours. According to the students of the college, the 26-year-old PG medical student from the Paediatrics department was suffering from a severe headache and had taken permission to rest. However, later he was found dead in his duty room. 

Toxic work culture

The medical fraternity has been facing the brunt of a toxic work culture, long duty hours, stipend issues and harassment for quite some time. Notably, Tamil Nadu resident doctors have continuously raised concerns regarding meagre stipends when compared to other states. 

Talking about these issues, Varman, who works in the Cardiology department of Madurai Medical College, said, "The students allege that Dr Thamizh was undergoing mental health issues. How can a doctor with mental health issues be allowed to work for such long hours?" Additionally, he urges the government and medical board to address these concerns. 

"The postpartum report is not out and the students, parents and medicos are urging the administration to disclose the reason behind the death," said Varman, adding that this tragic incident is the fourth such case within four weeks. "We are losing young doctors and the reason for his death, in particular, seems mysterious," he highlights, saying that multiple reasons like mental health, long duty hours, personal health concerns and economic situations may contribute to such deaths. 

Fighting for the need to change the mentality towards toxic work culture, long duty hours and deaths, medicos demand:
- Government to take action immediately 

- Formation of medical students welfare board

- Compensation of Rs 1 crore to medical students in case of death during the study period

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