ER doctors say they are dealing with more patient assaults

Published: Apr. 29, 2019 at 5:48 PM EDT
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A survey by the American College of Emergency Physicians claims most doctors believe emergency room violence is increasing.

Nearly half the doctors in the national survey said the hospital could help out more by adding more security, cameras and metal detectors.

Longtime ER doctor Ryan Stanton has been the victim of physical and verbal assaults by patients.

"I've been assaulted. I've been kicked. I've been punched. I've been threatened," Stanton said. "I've had my life threatened multiple times. I've had people standing in my face saying they are going to come after my family."

Dr. Stanton told WKYT Investigates the physical abuse and verbal threats have become much worse in recent years. He said 20 or 30 years ago, if a doctor or nurse was punched by a patient or family member, the doctor or nurse would defend themselves, but not anymore.

"This day and age of the satisfaction culture, the patient is always right -- almost to a fault in terms of the potential of allowing for harm."

Dr. Stanton said the physicians don't worry about assaults as much as the staff around the patients, like nurses and technicians. They are the ones that are in more danger.

"I've seen nurses get assaulted to where it would basically knock them out of the profession because the injury was so bad."

There is training for hospital staff so they can protect themselves.

"There's things we learn. There's things we know to address. There's training done with the staff. We learn never to let somebody between you and the door, you always have to have an exit."