GPs must consider how they would escape if attacked by a patient

A trainee doctor who was seriously assaulted in the consulting room has urged all GPs to consider how they would escape if attacked.

Dr Johannah Langmead, 23, received serious facial injuries and needed seven weeks off work suffering anxiety and flashbacks after the unprovoked attack during her F2 year in March 2007.

A patient at Wylam Health Centre, Prudhoe, Northumberland, interrupted Dr Langmead while she was signing prescriptions, bolted the consulting room door, knocked her to the ground and continued punching her. He said later that he was trying to kill her. Her screams alerted staff.

‘I recommend all practices to assess the locks on their doors and... all doctors... to imagine how they would get out of their room,' Dr Langmead says in the BJGP.

Safety recommendations made by Northumbria Acute Care Trust are ‘critical to the safety of all practitioners', Dr Langmead says. They include:

  • Removing internal locks on surgery doors that can prolong attacks where they are not needed for privacy
  • Reassessing room layouts to prevent patients covering the exits
  • Considering locks for doors from waiting rooms to protect staff from public areas.

Following the attack, the patient was given a two-year supervision order.

Dr Langmead is now a GP registrar in East Cumbria.

BJGP: 58; 551; 439

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