Advertisement

 

 

When the Patient Visit Gets Dangerous

When the Patient Visit Gets Dangerous
Author Information (click to view)

Linda Girgis, MD

Dr. Linda Girgis MD, FAAFP, is a family physician in South River, New Jersey. She holds board certification from the American Board of Family Medicine and is affiliated with St. Peter’s University Hospital and Raritan Bay Hospital. Dr. Girgis earned her medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine. She completed her internship and residency at Sacred Heart Hospital, through Temple University and she was recognized as intern of the year. Over the course of her practice, Dr. Girgis has continued to earn awards and recognition from her peers and a variety of industry bodies, including: Patients’ Choice Award, 2011-2012, Compassionate Doctor Recognition, 2011-2012. Dr. Girgis’ primary goal as a physician remains ensuring that each of her patients receives the highest available standard of medical care.

 

+


Linda Girgis, MD (click to view)

Linda Girgis, MD

Dr. Linda Girgis MD, FAAFP, is a family physician in South River, New Jersey. She holds board certification from the American Board of Family Medicine and is affiliated with St. Peter’s University Hospital and Raritan Bay Hospital. Dr. Girgis earned her medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine. She completed her internship and residency at Sacred Heart Hospital, through Temple University and she was recognized as intern of the year. Over the course of her practice, Dr. Girgis has continued to earn awards and recognition from her peers and a variety of industry bodies, including: Patients’ Choice Award, 2011-2012, Compassionate Doctor Recognition, 2011-2012. Dr. Girgis’ primary goal as a physician remains ensuring that each of her patients receives the highest available standard of medical care.

 

Advertisement
"Patients walk into our exam rooms off the streets. They do not go through metal detectors or get asked to search their bags."
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Recently, a man with severe autism was in the office for follow-up. While speaking with him and his caretaker, the patient came up behind me and put one hand on each side of my head and tried to twist it. I felt like my neck was being wrenched. While this situation was quickly contained, it made me realize the very real danger in the exam room that doctors and other healthcare providers face on a daily basis.

In medical school and during our years of residency, we receive no real training on our own personal safety. Some attending physicians share their tips, but there is no formal education. I would have no idea how to protect myself if this patient did not back down. He could have very easily broken my neck.  Healthcare providers need training in how to protect ourselves from dangerous patients and situations. In the 21st Century, there are many dangers out there and they easily walk into our exam rooms.

Similarly, if we do take steps to protect ourselves, we open up the doors to liability. Doctors are not supposed to harm patients. We all know the Hippocratic Oath. But what if the patient tried to harm the doctor first? While self-defense would be appropriate, I also see how a case can be twisted out of the circumstances and a doctor held liable under our current tort system.

“Between doctors and patients, the bond of trust is crucial. Yet, this very partnership can pave the way to danger in the exam room.” – Linda Girgis, MD

 

Recently, the news over-flows with tales of the prescription medication abuse epidemic. Most doctors in practice can share harrowing tales of someone they refused to write a prescription for a controlled substance.  Doctors have even been attacked and killed over this. While the danger is there, doctors still need to stand up and do the right thing and not prescribe these medications freely. That would only be contributing further to this epidemic and the evils surrounding it. As a society, we need to all join together to fight this and to demand our law enforcement officers take the lead in this campaign. Too many lives are being lost in this, from the abusers, to the providers, to kids.

If we refuse to provide care for one of our established patients, we can be sued for abandoning them. But, what if there are intoxicated or otherwise out-of-control? As it is, the system almost forces us to see them anyway. Doctors should be given some discretion to refuse to see a patient who they feel is dangerous without facing the repercussions of a lawsuit.

Patients walk into our exam rooms off the streets. They do not go through metal detectors or asked to search their bags. They could be pretty much carrying anything. And I don’t think that they should have to be searched. But, this is another way we are open to danger.

Between doctors and patients, the bond of trust is crucial. Yet, this very partnership can pave the way to danger in the exam room. Yes, we need the trust but we also need ways to protect ourselves. More training is essential as are reforms in our current tort system. As protectors of patients’ health, we should be concentrating on our patients’ health. There need to be innovative ways to keep danger out of the exam room.

 

Like What You’re Reading?

Get Dr. Linda’s New Book!
The War on Doctors

Dr. Linda Girgis MD, FAAFP, is a family physician in South River, New Jersey. She holds board certification from the American Board of Family Medicine and is affiliated with St. Peter’s University Hospital and Raritan Bay Hospital. Dr. Girgis earned her medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine. She completed her internship and residency at Sacred Heart Hospital, through Temple University and she was recognized as intern of the year. Over the course of her practice, Dr. Girgis has continued to earn awards and recognition from her peers and a variety of industry bodies, including: Patients’ Choice Award, 2011-2012, Compassionate Doctor Recognition, 2011-2012. Dr. Girgis’ primary goal as a physician remains ensuring that each of her patients receives the highest available standard of medical care.

Follow Dr. Linda Girgis, MD, FAAFP: Website | Twitter |

1 Comment

  1. Dr. Girgis, that must have been a harrowing experience. You are not alone, by any stretch of the imagination. As an ICU and one time ED nurse, crazy (and I am not making light of the mentally ill, as “crazy” in this setting includes the drunk, wildly angry, and drug user) walks into the room with you far too often. One night, leaving the ED, a young man – who was not a patient but who had been asked to leave the ED because he was causing a disturbance – accosted me with a knife. He was angry about being “thrown out of the ER” and I was the first person he saw. I slowly backed away from him. There was no one around except the other nurse who was behind me. We were fortunate that a security guard saw us and came from a block away and subdued the guy – who was a “trustee” at the drug rehab center…There have been plenty of other hair raising instances including a drunk who burst into the ICU to finish off his brother-in-law who had survived the first attack at home. (He didn’t succeed). The hospitals in question refused to post guards as it “sent the wrong message”. That would have been funny if it weren’t so ironic. My current job is patient education in a pharmacy setting. Plenty of angry people who are refused refills on their narcotics and other Schedule drugs by their prescribers, but the bad news is being delivered by a pharmacist or nurse. At this point they don’t care, and are just hopping mad. I keep my cell in my pocket and there’s a panic button wired to the police department for the front counter clerks. So what do we do? Panic buttons are a good idea, if you could reach it. SWAT would be on your doorstep in minutes, but you might already be dead from your broken neck.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

three × four =

[ HIDE/SHOW ]