Amid the increasing number of patients attacking medical workers in emergency rooms of late, a recent survey shows eight out of 10 Korean doctors have experienced violence firsthand by their patients.
According to InterMD, an information and knowledge sharing service for doctors, the survey of 1,750 doctors indicated that 1,321 doctors had experienced violence from their patients at hospitals.
About 77 percent said they suffered verbal violence, followed by 23 percent being exposed to physical threats and assaults. Nearly two out of 10 doctors said physical attacks injured them.
Drunken patients accounted for most cases of violence in hospitals, followed by people dissatisfied with their treatment or medical fees attacking healthcare providers. About 44 percent of cases involved people who verbally or physically assaulted medical workers while expressing “frustration” with worsening prognosis or impending death of themselves or others.
In most cases, medical personnel responded to hospital violence by trying to calm patients. They also resorted to other measures such as calling the police, avoiding the hostile situation to protect themselves, drawing on nearby people for help, or taking legal steps.
Most doctors noted that violence in hospitals does more mental damages than physical harms. A whopping 97 percent said that psychological insults hurt them more were, compared to 84 percent who said physical injuries were more damaging. Doctors working at public medical institutions were more vulnerable to mental damage than those working at private clinics.
About half of patients who witnessed hospital violence also said they experienced physical and mental harms from the violence.
InterMD pointed out that the fundamental problem is that doctors still feel that they do not get the protection they need. In response to the question regarding what efforts are most needed to deal with hospital violence, 80 percent stressed the need for stronger punishment for the offender and strengthening medical staff protection.
One doctor commented on how things are different in the United States.
“In most U.S. states, patients who commit acts of violence at emergency rooms or hospitals are legible for punishment for committing a felony, said a doctor who is a member of InterMD. “For example, in the states of Washington and Colorado, assaults made against medical personnel are punished severely, and is considered a heinous crime in the states of Alabama and Indiana.”
It is important to note that violence can threaten not only the victim and healthcare providers but also the health and life of other patients, he added.
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