Two-thirds of GPs report being assaulted

More than two-thirds of GPs and registrars have been verbally or physically assaulted in the last five years, according to a Medical Defence Union survey.

It found that, of the 94 GPs and registrars who took part, 56 had been verbally assaulted , one physically and seven both verbally and physically assaulted.

  • 57% said they had not received training in dealing with difficult patients
  • 19% suffered anxiety or depression as a result of the incident
  • 2% were left with cuts or lacerations

In 7% of cases patients were removed from practice lists and in 4% care was transferred to a colleague. In 23% of incidents police or security guards were called. 88% of respondents reported patients making unreasonable demands.

Dr James Armstrong, an MDU medico-legal adviser, said: ‘There are steps doctors can take to try to prevent difficult situations escalating into violence or abuse, such as anticipating where flashpoints might arise. The MDU offers training to members in communication skills and on dealing with difficult patients.'

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