Do Doctors Feel Safe With Patients?

December 28, 2022

Violence against physicians at work has made headlines recently. Last June, a patient purchased an AR-15-style rifle, walked into a Tulsa, Oklahoma, medical building and murdered four people, including the well-regarded surgeon who had recently operated on him. 

One study found that 59% of US physicians had heard offensive remarks targeting personal characteristics such as their race, age, gender, weight, or sexual orientation, and nearly half had a patient request a different doctor.

Also, some patients may lack the capacity to control their behavior due to the temporary influence of drugs and alcohol, a mental health crisis, or a chronic medical condition such as dementia.

Given these challenges, physicians may need to evaluate whether they can trust their patients to have goodwill toward them or to, at least, do no harm. They may also need to assess whether patients can manage their emotions and whether a situation will escalate.

Medscape would like to know about your encounters with patients who made you feel unsafe and how you reacted.


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