AMA president: Violence against healthcare workers must end

Gerald Harmon, MD, president of the American Medical Association, is calling for an end to threats and intimidation against physicians and other healthcare workers.

In an op-ed published Feb. 3, Dr. Harmon wrote about the uptick in intimidation, threats and attacks toward people in the medical field during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as an increase in racially and ethnically motivated violence.

Neither issue is new, but the prevalence of them, especially in recent years, is especially concerning, he said. 

Healthcare organizations across the U.S. are asking patients to show kindness and patience to staff. State legislators are also introducing bills to protect healthcare staff.  

In his op-ed, Dr. Harmon cited a global study from 2020, published in BMJ Open, that showed healthcare workers were about 50 percent more likely than other community members to have been harassed, bullied or hurt because of the pandemic. 

He also cited survey results published in JAMA Internal Medicine in January 2021 showing that at least a quarter of U.S. physicians have reported being attacked or harassed on social media about their stances on topics ranging from vaccines to religion. Additionally, he cited a neo-Nazi protest in January against anti-racist physicians at Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital.

"Violence has no place in the medical profession, and so we as individuals and as leaders in organized medicine have a responsibility to do whatever we can to prevent it from occurring inside and outside of the workplace," said Dr. Harmon. "This is important for the health and well-being of everyone working in medicine today, but particularly for those who have been historically marginalized."

He encouraged hospitals and health systems to work together to share best practices for effective violence prevention strategies inside and outside of healthcare settings.

Read his full op-ed here

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