The Australian Medical Association has launched an anti-violence kit to make medical practices safer for GPs, their staff and patients.
As part of General Practice Week (15-21 June), the AMA has sent out the kit, We care for you, you care for us, to all its GP members - explaining the risks of violence in medical practice.
AdvertisementResearch indicates that more than half of GPs are exposed to work-related violence in any 12-month period. GPs are very concerned about protecting their patients from violence in their practices.
AMA President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, said this violence could take many forms - including assault, stalking, verbal abuse (the most common), threatening behaviour, sexual harassment or property damage.
"Doctors deal with patients from many different backgrounds - with a wide variety of conditions. Patients might be under a great deal of stress, in pain or upset. Their behaviour can be unpredictable and situations can quickly escalate."
Dr Capolingua said that a 2005 study found: a link between high-level violence and medical practices being located in lower socio-economic areas; doctors being female; having a high number of patients with drug-related problems; and providing home visits during business hours.
Beyond physical injury, workplace violence could lead to poor morale, absenteeism, stress, feelings of decreased competence, substance abuse, avoidance of patients and job dissatisfaction.
"The impact on people working in the practice, as well as patients, can be significant," she said.
The anti-violence kit will give GPs useful and practical information on how to manage the risks of workplace violence, how to identify, assess and control risks and what to do after an incident.
Dr Capolingua said medical practices occupy a special place in the local community.
"Doctors care for people. The community places a great deal of trust in their local doctor and the general practice environment needs to be a safe one," she said.
General Practice Week (15-21 June) highlights the importance of general practice in our healthcare system and shows that GPs are leading the way to better health.