Letters to the editor
Medwave 2016 May;16(4):e6451 doi: 10.5867/medwave.2016.04.6451

The backroom in attacks on doctors

Manuel María Ortega Marlasca

Dear editor:

Not too long ago, I heard a speech of a good colleague of mine in which he described the clinical interview as the final result of the concurrence of an imperfect being, a doctor, with another imperfect being, a patient, and out of this interaction there could be positive, negative or neutral outcomes for both. On some occasions, you could say they are cataclysmic results as when the medical or general health staff is attacked.

Statistics recently released by Consejo General de Colegios de Médicos de España, show that most attacks on doctors were originated in primary care [1] with 50% of the reported cases, and 19 % of them in urgent care.

This grim reality is not typical for our latitudes, as a review published in this journal (doi: 10.5867/medwave.2015.07.6239[2] shows that already for years, health workers are attacked in all countries, especially in emergency services. At the same time, this review highlights the serious consequences involving the assaulted staff and the service they provide.

In this context, the Consejo General de Colegios de Médicos de España developed the initiative "Day against attacks to health personnel" [3], held on 03/16/2016, which emerged as a reaction to the murder of a Family and Community Medicine specialty resident in a rural population in 2009.

In the case of doctors’ attacks, we must always consider two different realities: on one hand the apathy of the repetitiveness and the high prevalence of professional negligence.

It is curious to us, professionals that have been attacked, to note how our aggressor is not the first time acting as such; he had already made other wrongdoing in the same center (or centers), and even sometimes bragged and boasted about it with impunity. Showing procrastination frequented the environment and benefited from it, until we decided to act. He was even known and feared by all, because it was like the image of the outlaw in the western town without a sheriff.

On the other hand, one of the evils that often prevail is the professional sloppiness, because sometimes you have to see how a big part of the professionals of a facility or service are not able to act when they know for a fact that there is an aggressive action happening against another professional in the center. To look away or not get involved with an issue that doesn’t affect them, is more than enough. An automated string is activated and they hide like an ostrich.

Aside from institutions, organizations or government agencies, don’t let go something that is our option: our personal initiative. Let us all be consistent and determined to act against aggression in our working environment to the extent that everyone has a personal option. Do not leave without a timely judicial complaint process, a report about anyone who tries to attack us on any form, way or means. Not reporting involves high risks and dangers [4].

Finally we must recognize and thank all our medical colleagues who devote themselves on body and soul to this very unfortunate matter [5], as well as all the medical colleges’ lawyers who advise and support us when we act in court against the aggressors.


From the editor
The author originally submitted this letter in Spanish and subsequently translated it into English. The Journal has not copyedited this version.

Conflicts of interest
The author declares that there are no conflicts of interest.

The author declares no financial support for writing this letter.

  1. Corominas C. AP concentra 1 de cada 2 agresiones a médicos. Redaccion Médica. 2016 [on line]. | Link |
  2. Jiménez Paneque R, Pavés Carvajal JR. Occupational hazards and diseases among workers in emergency services: a literature review with special emphasis on Chile. Medwave 2015 ago;15(7):e6239. | CrossRef | PubMed |
  3. Consejo General de Colegios Oficiales de Médicos de España. Manifiesto Dia Nacional Contra Las Agresiones a Sanitarios 2016 . www.cgcom.es [on line]. | Link |
  4. Ortega-Marlasca M-M. Cuando no se denuncia… Medicina Gaditana, 2015. medicinagaditana.es [on line]. | Link |
  5. Marlasca MMO. Tackling violence against health-care workers in Spain. Lancet. 2014 Sep 13;384(9947):955. | CrossRef | PubMed |


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