Violence Against Medical Assistants
Having practiced as an office-based dermatologist in a socially disadvantaged area in Hamburg for 31 years, I would like to widen the perspective of the article beyond “threats to doctors.“ As other doctors, I was physically attacked by patients in my office room, the entrance door to my office was smashed because it had not been opened to a patient arriving late, and I was seriously threatened when I did not issue the certificates of incapacity for work demanded by some patients.
However, violence—mostly in the form of verbal attacks—against my medical assistants has been much more common. My practice nurses and receptionists were shouted at, insulted and threatened every week when they had to defer appointments to the next day because of overcrowding or when they only handed over prescriptions requested by patients after these patients had been seen by me or when they asked for patience when waiting times were long. In some cases, I had to intervene personally at the counter of my office to protect my staff. At some occasions, I had to take members of my staff along in my car out of the underground car park as they had been threatened to be attacked after work.
Violence in physicians’ offices is a problem kept secret out of shame. Many doctors are reluctant to talk about conflicts with violent patients, fearing this could harm their offices’ reputation. It is essential to break this taboo to facilitate a public discussion aimed at developing strategies to solve this problem that work in the real world.
Dr. med. Joachim Weiß
|1.||Vorderwülbecke F, Feistle M, Mehring M, Schneider A, Linde K: Aggression and violence against primary care physicians—a nationwide questionnaire survey. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2015; 112: 159–65 MEDLINE|