To help CPCPs develop a prevent and risk mitigation strategy, the study recommends designing offices to be safe; assessing patient risk; having multidisciplinary committee, which is commonly used in the Veterans Health Administration’s system to provide guidance in violent patients; and finding a way to discharge a patient by management.

Even though discharging a patient is the most commonly used way to mitigate risks, “some employed physicians were not allowed to discharge by management due to fear of lowering press ganey patient satisfaction surveys a clear lack of concern for employees safety,” Kim noted.

Healthcare workers in general, specifically nurses, continue to be subjected to violence. A survey conducted in 2014 found that 76% of nurses had experienced violence.3 From the study, the type of violence breakdown against nurses was as follows: verbal abuse by patients, 54.2%; physical abuse by patients, 29.9%; verbal abuse by visitors, 32.9%; and physical by visitors, 3.5%.

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More recently, a cardiac surgeon was shot at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in January of this year. The physician operated on the shooter’s mother, who died, a few months prior.

In response, the American Medical Association (AMA) passed policy at the 2015 AMA Annual Meeting, which was was held in June, to support additional research on how violence against physicians and other healthcare professionals can be prevented.4

“I think just as hospitals espouse the mantra of patient safety,” Kim said. “I think they really need to think about workplace safety which also affects patients, as well.”


1. Chen G, et al. Pain Med. 2015; doi: 10.1111/pme.12794.

2. NBC 10 Philadelphia. Patient Kills Case Worker, Shoots Doctor Who Then Fires Back. 2015. Accessed July 15, 2015.

3. Speroni K, et al. J. Emerg. Nur. 2015; doi: 10.1016/j.jen.2013.05.014.

4. AMA Wire: New AMA policy calls for research on violence against physicians. 2015. Accessed July 15, 2015.