FRIDAY, Sept. 23, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Stories have grabbed the headlines during the pandemic: violent episodes in U.S. emergency rooms where patients attacked doctors.

Now a new survey shows just how widespread problem found: Two-thirds of emergency physicians reported being assaulted in the past year alone, while more than one-third of respondents said they had been assaulted more than once. Worse, about 80% of emergency physicians reported an increase in violence, with 45% saying it had “increased significantly” in the past five years.

“Emergency room violence continues to threaten and harm emergency room physicians and patients,” said Dr. Chris Kang, president-elect of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), who conducted the survey. “Over the past five years, emergency physicians have witnessed and experienced a steady increase in the number of attacks exacerbated by the pandemic. This report highlights that attacks on emergency doctors, crews and staff are rampant and must be tackled.”

The findingscollected in 2022, updates a similar survey conducted in 2018.

“Emergency physicians should not compromise their duty of care to patients because of their injuries and concern for their personal safety,” Kang said in an ACEP news release. “In addition to the physical risks, the constant threat of violence distracts from patient care and contributes significantly to mental health problems and burnout among emergency physicians.”

According to ACEP, COVID-19 has had an impact by reducing trust and increasing violence between patients, the medical team and staff.

About two-thirds of emergency room doctors said they believe the pandemic has caused an increase in violence in emergency rooms. About 69% said the pandemic has reduced the level of trust between patients and emergency department staff.

According to 89% of respondents, the violence had a negative impact on patient care. how? This increased wait times and resulted in patients leaving the emergency room without seeing a doctor.

About 87% of emergency physicians said they lost productivity due to violence, while 85% reported emotional trauma and increased restlessness.

“With emergency rooms no longer seen as safe spaces, inadequate protection of emergency medical professionals and staff, as well as patients, combined with insufficient accountability from hospitals, communities and attackers, can only contribute to continued violence,” said Kan. “We must do more to make sure doctors and staff can carry out their duties without worrying about threats to their well-being and safety.”

The survey included 2,712 US emergency physicians and was conducted online between July 25 and August 1.

Additional information

The American Medical Association had more to say violence against doctors.

SOURCE: American College of Emergency Physicians, news release, September 22, 2022.

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