Strategies can reduce the risk of violence at work

Once we were sacrosanct, held in the highest regard, and our practices were considered safe havens. 

Lately, things have changed. We’ve slipped from our pedestal and some of our patients see verbal and even physical violence as acceptable behaviour.

A recent GP violence study (MO, 11 February) found many patients are losing control in waiting rooms across the country.

Some 16% of Australia’s 23,000 GPs have been physically assaulted in the past 12 months; this is twice the assault rate for the general community. Verbal abuse is so commonplace that most GPs and their staff accept it as part of the job. 

The study has prompted a call for harsher penalties for perpetra­tors in medical settings, but the real question is whether increasing violence against doc­tors is indicative of a broader issue with a dysfunctional system. 

Patients are learning that general practice is a commodity and as GPs we