9 Mar, 2023 @ 17:12
1 min read

Assaults on doctors hit record high in Spain 

Emotional Stress Young Doctor

THE NUMBER of violent acts suffered by medical professionals in Spain hit a new high in 2022, with a total 843 physical or verbal assaults registered. 

That’s according to the Medical Association of Spain (OMC), which has been tracking the statistics since the year 2010. 

The figure for last year was up 38% from the year before, when it came in at 612. The previous highest number was recorded in 2019, when there were 677. 

The numbers, however, are ‘the tip of the iceberg’, according to Jose Maria Rodriguez Vicente, the general secretary of the OMC. Speaking at the presentation of the figures on Thursday, he said that ‘many doctors have got used to living with threats and do not report them’.

In comments reported by Spanish newspaper El Pais, he suggested that the phenomenon may be due to how ‘the pandemia has changed society, which now has more anxiety, more depression, and more aggression’. 

Most of the assaults recorded are insults (47%), followed by threats and coercion (37%) and bodily injuries (16%). 

A full 61% of cases involve female members of staff, while the most likely setting for such a violent act to occur is in primary healthcare in the public system. 

Men are more likely to perpetuate these assaults (55%), and in 41% of cases they are due to disagreements over treatment or attention received. 

While the study focused on doctors, the police report that other healthcare professionals, including physiotherapists, vets and social workers, have also requested assistance and training in how to prevent violent assaults. 

The OMC began collecting statistics about assaults after a female doctor was murdered by a patient in Murcia in 2009, according to El Pais. Since then, it has been calling for the creation of a national plan coordinated by the central government and in which all of the regional healthcare systems are involved.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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