GPs facing violence and sex harassment

ONE in six GPs has been physically abused in their career by a patient and nearly one in five has faced sexual harassment, an Australian  study has revealed.

The first national survey of patient violence and aggression in general practice found verbal abuse was the most common form of aggressive behaviour experienced by GPs, with 88% experiencing it at some point in their career, and 58% experiencing it in the last 12 months.

Carried out by researchers from the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute, the survey of 782 GPs also indicated that doctors felt they were most at risk of patient aggression at closing time, after hours and during staff shortages, particularly when drug-affected and drug-seeking patients presented. 

The findings have prompted renewed calls for harsher penalties for those who assault health professionals.

Property damage was the next most common type of aggressive behaviour (37%), followed by