We had an incident the other night in the hospital where a patient with known psychiatric problems became violent after an anticipated medical procedure was canceled. The patient’s family also became agitated and made verbal threats to staff.
In my discussions with other physicians and CEOs throughout the country, it appears patient violence issues, such as this one, are increasing.
It’s happening in both urban and suburban hospital environments – most recently at Johns Hopkins.
I believe that there are many causes for the increase in hospital violence:
- The woefully inadequate inpatient and outpatient psychiatric facilities for those with long-standing behavioral problems;
- Drug and alcohol dependency;
- Stress related to finances;
- And the stress a patient and his family experience during an acute illness.
A hospital needs to be a haven of safety in order to be an oasis of healing.