“She struck so fast that all I was aware of was a burning pain across my face. I bled freely. I did not realize I was within reach and was behind her at about a 30-degree angle. She had already assaulted the EMS crew that brought her in. … She asked forgiveness from me when the Geodon and Ativan kicked in, and of course, I forgave her.”
Dr. Margaret Staggers, FACEP, an emergency physician at Beckley (W. Va.) Appalachian Regional Hospital and past president of the West Virginia chapter of ACEP, was assaulted by an elderly psychotic patient last July. Such violent patient assaults against emergency physicians led to an ACEP Public Health and Injury Prevention Committee objective focusing on workplace violence.
The exact number of assaults on emergency physicians remains unknown because it’s underreported. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has provided sobering information on the reported prevalence in the entire health care/social services sector, estimating 900 deaths and 1.7 million nonfatal assaults annually. Physicians say many health care workers fail to file a formal report because of: