The experience and training of accident and emergency (A&E) junior doctors with regard to patient aggression was investigated by use of a telephone questionnaire. A total of 114 A&E departments in five different regions in the United Kingdom were telephoned. A total of 100 junior doctors answered the questionnaire. Verbal aggression had been experienced by 96 of them, 50 had received threats and 32 said that patients had tried to assault them. Eighteen doctors had been assaulted by patients on a total of 23 occasions. Thirty-two doctors admitted that they had been upset after a violent incident, so much so that they were preoccupied with it after work. None of those assaulted received any counselling and no police charges resulted from the assaults. Only 11 doctors had received any training on how to manage aggressive patients, although 88 believed that it would be useful. The results of this study indicate that violence towards junior doctors in A&E is a significant problem. Aspects of this problem, including training and support for staff, need to be addressed urgently.
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