Tijuana doctors launch protest against rise in violence against medical professionals

By Angelica Martinez

1:08 p.m. May 14, 2008

TIJUANA – Doctors at public and private hospitals and clinics stopped seeing non-emergency patients Wednesday morning to protest the rise in violence against medical professionals in the region, officials said.
Doctors at Tijuana's General Hospital, one of the largest and best known medical facilities in the city, said they changed patients' appointments or attended to them before 8 a.m. when the four-hour protest began. Hospital operations returned to normal at noon.

Medical professionals decided late Tuesday night at a meeting of Colegio Medico, a medical society in Tijuana, to stop seeing patients who were not in need of urgent care as a way to call authorities' attention to the violence. An estimate of the number of protest participants was not available.
Doctors and others in the medical field in Tijuana have been the target of extortions and kidnappings in recent months, said Eric Rosenberg, an internist at a public hospital and head of Tijuana's Colegio Medico, the city's largest medical group with 800 members.

In April, more than 200 physicians wearing white coats converged at the state government offices demanding an audience with Gov. Jose Guadalupe Osuna Millan.

Similar protests are being planned by the city's medical society in the coming weeks. A date for the next protest has not been set, Rosenberg said.

Officials at the city's General Hospital said about 100 patients were informed of the protest when they showed up and were allowed to wait inside if they wanted. Those in need of emergency or trauma care were attended to right away, hospital officials said.

None of the patients told to wait was in need of urgent care. The hospital's administrative, pediatric, gynecology and laboratory services were not interrupted.

Members of the medical society said they planned to follow Wednesday's protest with discussions with authorities.

“It's gotten to the point where we can't work or live in peace. It's a very stressful situation,