Junior doctors are being forced to deal with drunken and drug-fuelled violent patients at almost twice the rate of more experienced colleagues.
A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia surveyed almost 9500 doctors across Australia and found more than 70 per cent experienced verbal or written aggression and just under a third suffered physical aggression in the previous year.
The survey found patients were the most common source of aggression, followed by their relatives or carers, and that younger and less experienced hospital non-specialists and specialists in training were twice as likely to be victims of abuse.
Junior doctor Cassandra Host, 30, said she had suffered some form of abuse from patients almost every day during her busy shifts in the emergency department at Joondalup Health Campus.
"There's certainly lots of verbal aggression that I've received," Dr Host said.
"If there's a particularly disruptive patient or relative, the shift focuses from other patients in the department and compromises other patients . . . as well as posing a threat to staff involved in caring for the aggressive patient or relative," she said.
"Certainly intoxication, whether that's alcohol or other drugs, plays a huge role in patient aggression."
At 23.4 per cent, the report found the proportion of GPs and GP registrars reporting physical aggression from patients was far higher than in previous studies. <div class="endnote">