Published: October 13, 2016
No doctor goes to work anticipating that something violent is going happen to them. But sometimes, tragedy strikes when we least expect it. For doctors, dealing with a violent situation is not something that happens on a daily basis; however when it does happen, it is important to be prepared on how to face the situation or better yet, know how to prevent it from happening. Here are 10 ways on how doctors can prevent violence in the exam room:
1) Familiarise yourself with possible situations
Patients are not uncontrolled robots that get violent out of nowhere. There is always something that sets them off. Familiarise yourself with the situations to know what might make the patients feel frustrated or distraught. At the same time, you should be familiar with your consultation or exam room as well, so that you can make a quick exit if you are feeling threatened by the patient.
2) Recognise signs in the patient
A lot of things can get patients or family members frustrated and distraught before they get to be in your examination room. You should be able to notice the body language of patients or their family members when they are in the room with you. You should also be aware if a patient has a history of violence, to avoid bad situations from occurring.
3) Communicate with your staff
You never know what can go wrong in the examination room, which is why it is only logical to communicate with your staff and let them know how to behave if a patients situation gets violent. Find ways to communicate, so that you all know what to do if the situation gets out of hand in the examination room. Think of it as a drill.
4) Do not cave In
When patients demonstrate any signs of violence, doctors should not show that they are scared. Once doctors cave in, the patients will take advantage of the doctors fearing them and will keep coming back for more. It is more or less like a bully situation. They should try to calm the patient down, and if it does not work, it is better for them to exit the exam room.
5) Do not aggravate the situation
It is human nature to counterattack when we are being attacked, but for doctors, it is best to try and not instigate the patients to be more violent. Just try and be calm to not make the whole situation dangerous for you. Even if you are being insulted verbally or attacked physically, you should just remind yourself to keep calm and wait for the patient to calm down as well.
6) No obligations
As doctors, you are not obligated to take in patients, who have demonstrated signs of violence in the past. You are in a position to decline any patients, who are aggressive and behave in a way that makes you or even your nurses uncomfortable. Your job is hard as it is and if you are willing to take these kinds of patients in just for the sake of making money, you will be stressing yourself out even more.
7) Say no
If a patient is trying to make you do something that is unethical, you are allowed to say no. If that is what triggers the patient, you should explain your reasons and try to emphasize that it is medically improper to take the step that is being requested by the patient.
8) Just leave
Do not ever think that just because you are a doctor, you should stand by a violent patient. If you feel your life is in danger because of this patient, then you should not be afraid to leave the room. Also, feel free to leave the room if your patient is being overly persistent. Always try to be positioned near an exit to be able to get out in case things get bad.
9) Make the call
If things are getting out of hand and the patient is becoming extremely violent, do not be afraid to just call the police or security to help you out. Do let the patient know that you are calling security, and make sure you do it – don’t let the patient think that it is not a real threat.
10) Take legal action
There are always those patients, who are unable to take a hint and keep coming back to continue with their harassment. If you are in this situation, then the best way to move forward is to press charges. Make use of available legal options, if you do not want the same patient to harass you again.