Doctors suffering from workplace aggression

Doctor suffering

A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia has found doctors have increasingly become the target of physical and verbal aggression, especially from patients’ relatives and carers.

The study revealed that 70.6% of doctors experienced verbal or written aggression, and just under a third had experienced physical aggression from patients, patients’ carers and relatives, colleagues or other people outside the workplace.

It was also found that younger physicians and specialists in training were twice as likely to be victims of aggression compared to GPs or specialists.

WorkCover Queensland Customer services manager Jacinta Draper agrees with the study and believes that workplace aggression is a worldwide concern that has been linked to impaired physical and mental health.

“Doctors and other health industry workers are exposed to physical and verbal aggression in the workplace given the nature and location of the work they do, the types of clients, business hours, and staffing levels,” said Ms Draper.

“They are regularly dealing with patients who may have physiological imbalances or disturbances, be suffering from acute and chronic mental health conditions, or are simply distressed or frustrated with their situation,

“Put all of these factors together, and it’s easy to see how impaired physical and mental health is an issue for employers in the health industry.”

When it comes to managing the effects of workplace aggression, employers need to be dependent on input from their workers to help identify and address stressors at work.

“Employers will see clear benefits from communicating with, and involving employees in the risk identification process,” said Ms Draper.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland have published a guide Prevention and management of aggression in health services which employers can use to identify, prevent and manage aggression and violence in health industry workplaces.

Last updated
23 January 2017