Survey: ED physicians face increasing violence from patients

Residency Program Insider, October 12, 2018

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According to a national survey of more than 3,500 emergency department (ED) physicians, approximately two-thirds of ED physicians were assaulted in the past year. Seventy-one percent of respondents indicated that they had seen an assault while working in the past year, and almost 70% said that they believe violence against ED physicians has increased over the past five years.

Such incidences of violence can include a physical assault without a weapon, such as a punch or a bite, but may also include assault with a weapon, such as a stabbing. In an attempt to combat such attacks, some hospitals have begun installing metal detectors, though this is an unusual practice. In many cases, nurses and physicians are calling for new laws to deter assaults, citing such incidents as harmful to the staff and to patients because violence contributes to longer waits for patients and increases anxiety for everyone involved.

When asked to provide examples, several physicians cited assaults that occurred after they refused to prescribe a patient a narcotic. Another physician said he was attacked after informing a patient with mental illness that there was currently no room in a psychiatric hospital for a transfer from the emergency department.

Overall, employees in the healthcare industry experience workplace violence at a four times greater rate than those working in private industry.

Source: Boston Globe


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