October 30, 2018

 

Question:

Jennifer, 

A patient became aggressive and hostile in my waiting room today, threatening violence.  My team at the front called the police.The patient did depart before the officer arrived.  Did we do the right thing?  We made a report of the incident with the officer.   

Appreciate your input. 

Thank you, Dr. R

Answer: 

Some times you have to call the police.  It is important for your team in the front to know this and understand it.  There may be a situation that presents itself with a patient or other where the best route is to call the police.  Do not wait for an incident of potential physical violence.  Dial first, and worry later whether you are making a false report.  Now, careful who you give this instruction to.  Certain of our practices have some persons with questionable judgement that may abuse this directive.  Every so often, but more than 3-4 times per year, I have a client call with a legitimate instance where the right move was to call the police.  I've seen this arise with a drug seeking patient, a child-parent interaction gone wrong, or even over a balance owed.  On a few occasions over my career patients have become violent towards staff and other patients.  In each of these instances where an individual is upset enough to become threatening, you can and probably should call the police.  The police will look to diffuse the situation (from my experience) and will also work with you on a police report which will come in very handy later if complaints are made by the patient for his/her treatment by the practice.

Sounds to me like you did the right thing (based off of the very limited information provided!).    

 

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