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Advice for doctors on how to deal with violent patients

3 December 2008

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Only half of GPs and a quarter of hospital doctors have received any training in dealing with violent patients, according to the Medical Protection Society.

It is marking Anger Awareness Week by offering advice on dealing with patients who are upset and aggressive because they are unhappy with the service they have received.

Spokeswoman, Dr Stephanie Bown, said it will highlight a British Medical Association report which states three doctors a year are attacked at work.

She said: “Many patient complaints will be completely unjustified, but perceived grievances being raised formally can still have a damaging effect on doctors’ careers and reputations.

“Often, the best way to avoid this is to find a way of correcting inaccurate impressions at the outset, for example, by calming patients down and explaining why particular treatments are necessary.”

She said the first thing to do when confronted by an aggressive patient is to find out if the behaviour is because of an underlying medical condition, such as low blood sugar.

She also points out that doctors are only entitled to remove patients from their lists if they have given written warnings within the previous 12 months.

Copyright © Press Association 2008