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It doesn’t “come with the job”: violence against doctors at work must stop

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 26 May 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2780
  1. Sukhpreet Singh Dubb, CT2 doctor, Department of Investigative Medicine and Academic Surgery, Imperial College London, UK
  1. ssd05{at}

Sukhpreet Singh Dubb reflects on the ubiquity of aggression towards healthcare workers after he was attacked by a patient in the emergency department

A drunken patient had fallen over and lost consciousness from head trauma. As he awoke I was met with indignation and racial slurs. Investigation indicated no injury to treat, and the man agreed to a few hours’ observation. But I returned later to find him verbally abusing the nursing staff, and he made physical threats on seeing me.

Despite our best intentions this man felt let down by the system, and the standard of our care fell short of his expectations. Demanding a form to discharge himself, he stormed out of the department. When I went into the waiting room to call the next patient the same man physically assaulted me, throwing me to the floor and punching me.

Which incidents do we report?

Patients in the emergency department who are in pain may behave uncharacteristically badly, and health workers have particular difficulty deciding which incidents of abuse to report, if any.

A good definition of workplace violence in …

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