Reposting a thread by Esther Choo MD on violence experienced in the hospital


Esther Choo is an emergency physician and professor at the Oregon Health & Science University. She is a popular science communicator who has used social media to talk about racism and sexism in healthcare. She was the president of the Academy of Women in Academic Emergency Medicine and is a member of the American Association of Women Emergency Physicians.


I once did a survey of my colleagues about violence they experienced in the hospital and what was striking was the email ?s I got. One person wanted to know if it “counted” if a patient swung at him with a knife but missed (instead hit the stretcher and sunk the knife in deep)

Another person told me about how he was roundhouse kicked and fractured his face, became a patient, and then went back to work. “And that’s how I leaned to be careful of people in martial arts uniforms”

People were funny, forgiving (“in their defense…” patient was drunk, having a bad day, etc), dismissive (just part of the job, we know what we signed up for) and overall violence as part of the job, at least in ER, seemed totally normalized

So now add in epic staff shortages, wait times, crowding, lack of timely visits, delayed surgeries and procedures, devaluing of health professionals, high costs of care, burnout…

…misaligned incentives (family member just fired for not seeing 35+ patients a day in clinic; imagine the care he was providing and relationships he was forging seeing half that, but profit is the driving force)…

And all this creates environments that were already imperfectly safe and are now becoming the perfect storm for violence.

And if your choice of weapon is one so efficient that even in the middle of a level one trauma center we cannot save you, and it is only a few hours from thought to access to action, well, this adds to the perfect storm for tragedy.



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