Physicians at the 2015 AMA Annual Meeting passed policy Tuesday to support a new study on methods that will prevent violence against physicians and other health care professionals while in the workplace.

This policy arrives less than six months after a Boston cardiac surgeon was fatally shot by a man suspected to have a grudge, underscoring the need for more stringent policies that protect physicians.

“It’s imperative that health care providers feel safe and secure while caring for their patients,” AMA Board Chair Stephen R. Permut, MD, said in a news release. “Given that there are currently no clear interventions proposed to ensure a safer and more secure health care environment for providers, the AMA is committed to taking the necessary steps to shed light on the various protocols, procedures and mechanisms that can be put in place to do so.”

Violence against physicians and health care workers facts

Health care workers experience the most nonfatal workplace violence compared to other professions, with attacks at hospital and social service settings accounting for almost 70 percent of nonfatal workplace assaults, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There also have been more than 150 shootings in health care facilities in the past decade, which has prompted some states to adopt legislation banning guns in hospital settings, according to a study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

“It’s clear that we need to explore more ways to curb the incidence of violence against America’s health care providers, and this new policy puts us on the path to finding new ways to protect these individuals who devote their lives to maintaining the health and well-being of their patients,” Dr. Permut said. 

For more information about preventing workplace violence against physicians: Take a look at the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety guidelines, which feature recommendations on launching workplace violence prevention programs in health care settings. 

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