By Malcolm Boyle, The Australian
Violent and aggressive behaviour towards healthcare providers is becoming the norm across Australia, as reported recently in Weekend Health.
It’s now seen as part of the job, rather than an unacceptable workplace risk needing action.
Studies involving emergency medical service staff in the US found 61 per cent were physically assaulted at work, with 25 per cent of those sustaining an injury preventing them from working.
In Sweden a study of paramedics found 80 per cent had been subjected to a violent act, mostly from a patient or a patient’s relative.
A recent study of Australian paramedics found nearly 90 per cent were exposed to workplace violence in the preceding 12 months, with verbal abuse being the most common, followed by intimidation, physical abuse, sexual harassment and sexual assault. It was the first internationally to investigate incidents of workplace sexual harassment and sexual assault.
The most disconcerting finding was that the main perpetrators of sexual harassment and sexual assault were paramedics’ colleagues, other health care providers and emergency service staff.
Alcohol, drugs or a combination of both fueled the violence in at least half the cases.
In Victoria assaults to emergency service providers can lead to a jail sentence. It’s a deterrent that is underutilized.
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