Five out of 10 trainee doctors said in a survey they have suffered attacks by patients or guardians. The poll came as violence against medical professionals is drawing social attention especially after a patient killed a psychiatrist in broad daylight at Kangbuk Samsung Hospital on Dec. 31.
The Korean Intern and Resident Association (KIRA) on Monday released an interim result of the online survey on the evaluation of hospitals by interns and residents across the country, conducted from Sept. 21 to Oct. 31 last year.
The pollsters asked whether trainee doctors have ever experienced violence (verbal abuse, assault, and sexual assault) from patients or guardians while working at hospitals. Fifty percent of the respondents, or 1,998 out of 3,999 doctors, said “yes.”
The survey also checked how frequently each department was exposed to violence. Emergency Medicine department had the worst result – 87.8 percent of trainees experienced violence from patients or guardians. Neurology came next with 66.3 percent, followed by Plastic Surgery with 64 percent, and Dermatology with 59.3 percent.
Obstetrics/Gynecology was least frequently exposed to violence (46.3 percent), followed by Surgery (47.2 percent), Pediatrics (51.4 percent), and Ophthalmology (51.6 percent).
A significant number of trainee physicians had a hard time providing medical care because of violent patients or guardians.
When asked, “In the last six months, how many times did you find it difficult to offer medical service due to violence by patients or guardians,” the respondents said 4.1 times on average.
At Emergency Medicine which was most frequently exposed to violence, interns and residents said 12.7 times in the past six months. Those at Urology said 5.3 times, and those at Ophthalmology, 4.4 times.
To a question, “Have you ever been severely injured so that you could not come to work due to violent patients or guardians in the past six months,” 40 trainees said “yes.”
KIRA’s Public Relations Director Seo Yeon-ju said the survey showed that trainee physicians who have the most contact with patients and guardians in hospitals were exposed to risks of various kinds of violence.
“When I was working as an intern, I was also exposed to violence risk. As hospitals are seeking various measures to provide a safe environment for medical care, they should also prepare preventive tools to secure trainee doctors’ safety,” Seo said.
The survey went through statistical verification by Korea University’s Biostatistics Department. The final result of the poll will be released in multiple phases through the website of Medistaff, a social network service for physicians, and Dr. Bridge, a mobile application for evaluation of medical training hospitals.
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