Voice of alarm and indignation of doctors at the increase in attacks at the hands of their own patients and their companions after the pandemic. The different medical colleges in Spain have made public in recent days the data on verbal and physical attacks registered in the last year. The data is very worrying. According to the Observatory against Aggressions presented by the General Council of Official Medical Associations (CGCOM), the figures for 2022 break the historical record, with 843 violent actions reported to medical associations, 38% more than the previous year.
Tarragona was the Spanish province with the most reported attacks: 196 episodes of verbal and physical violence during 2022, 35% more than in 2021, a year still highly conditioned by the effects of the pandemic.
The data was made public this afternoon by the College of Physicians of Tarragona (COMT) in a conference to address the problem with the assistance of physicians, heads of the Mossos d’Esquadra and the Tarragona Provincial Prosecutor’s Office. “It is a scourge, it seems that anything goes against doctors; we are suffering from post-pandemic social tension. We must denounce all attacks, make the problem visible. We have gone from being applauded during the pandemic to receiving beatings,” denounces Sergi Boada, president of the COMT.
SOS from professionals
“It is a scourge, it seems that anything goes against doctors; we are suffering from post-pandemic social tension, all attacks must be denounced”
“We got to the point of having to live off the help of colleagues, we all have an alert button in our workplace, a warning, that puts us in contact with another doctor, a nurse or an orderly because we don’t have personal security that protects us”, stressed Dr. Manuel Carasol, general secretary of the College of Physicians of Tarragona.
The high number of attacks registered in the south of Catalonia, with 29 physical attacks (20 medical) is not due, according to its own College of Physicians, to a specific problem in the province of Tarragona. “Yes, it is where more attacks are reported, but it is not where more attacks occur,” says Dr. Boada. The reason, as highlighted by the College of Physicians in Tarragona, is that they have created a system for collecting cases of aggression that allows them to more accurately detect cases of violence suffered by their physicians in the regions of Tarragona and Terres de l ‘Ebre.
“It is the tip of the iceberg, underneath there are many attacks in regions that are not being visualized. The logical thing is to think that if we report close to 200 attacks and we are 3,000 collegiate; in Barcelona there are 35,000 and in Madrid there are 50,000 doctors… Do the calculations yourself,” warns Boada, who maintains that “2,000 attacks” could be exceeded in each of the two regions.
Lack of security against attacks
“We all have an alert button that puts us in contact with another doctor, a nurse or an orderly because we don’t have security personnel to protect us”
The doctors ask for more private surveillance in the face of the serious episodes of insecurity they are suffering. In many health centers private surveillance has already been incorporated, but there are many doctors who, in the event of an attack, must resort to the help of their colleagues. It is one of the demands that have been made explicit in the conference organized by the College of Physicians of Tarragona. The doctors have asked for more police and judicial means to be able to deal with the attacks and to be able to process the complaints.
The profile of the doctor attacked is a young doctor, while that of the aggressor is a patient over sixty years of age. There are more and more female aggressors, with an increase of 40% in the last year. “The group of young doctors is the most vulnerable”, highlights the report of the College of Physicians of Tarragona in its annual report. Aggressions by the patients’ companions have also grown worryingly. The majority of assaults take place in primary care centers, although more and more are registered in hospitals and hospital emergencies.
“It produces significant frustration in doctors, there is a loss of the good relationship between the doctor and the patient,” warns Dr. Carasol. “There is an evident lack of security guards. It seems that a serious attack is needed for them to mobilize. The attacks must be denounced, it is the only way,” insisted Dr. Boada.
The profile of the doctor attacked is a young doctor, while that of the aggressor is a patient over sixty years of age
“Generating false expectations to the population that are difficult to meet if the current reality of health care is taken into account generates frustration in the patient, who too often channels this despair with insults, threats or physical attacks, all of them aggressions, which professionals end up suffering”, highlights the General Council of Official Colleges of Physicians.
During the day to address the attacks held in Tarragona, the Mossos d’Esquadra have given some recommendations to doctors to prevent, above all, physical attacks. In addition to always keeping calm and avoiding confrontation, among the tips is to avoid having office supplies in sight in the consultations to prevent some patients from attacking the health personnel with “scissors, staplers or potted plants.”
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