As the debate over access to pain medication intensifies, apparently violence against chronic pain care providers is a prevalent and serious issue, a new study in Pain Medicine reveals.
One wouldn’t think that being a pain care provider is dangerous business, but the data sure paint a different picture.
Authors Kim David, Daftari Anuj and Sibai Nabil from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit conducted a survey of the members of the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP) to collect data on demographics, rates of violence, types of violence, injury, risk mitigation, and the context of violence.
The results would have most chronic pain care providers ready to increase security.
- 51% have received threats
- 7% of those threats involved a gun
- 64% have had to call security
- 2.73% have been physically injured
What steps do chronic pain care providers take to mitigate violence?
- 85% discharge the patient
- 16% use protective equipment
- 54% of those carry a gun for protection
Some other findings from the study include:
- Opioid management was the highest context for violence (89.9%; P < 0.0001).
- Those who practiced part-time were more likely to be harmed (P = 0.0290).
- Females were less likely to be threatened (P = 0.0507).
- Anesthesiology was the most threatened vs. other specialties (P = 0.0215).
- Urban practices were less likely to move or close the practice (P = 0.0292).
The study authors wrote in their conclusion, “Chronic pain care providers were at high risk for violence. Risk factors were older age, male, working part time, and anesthesiology. Risk was highest in the context of opioid management and disability. Discharging patient was the most common risk mitigation. A significant number of physicians carried firearms.”
The US Labor of Statistics says that healthcare workers experience violence more so than any other industry, and that patients were responsible for the highest percentage of non-fatal workplace assaults.
There have been several media reports about violence in healthcare – many very sad and some heroic. This Scientific American article is a good in-depth look into the issue of violence against hospital workers and nurses. While this article from American News Report gives a good example as to why healthcare providers are increasingly carrying guns as a means of protection.
It’s inordinately sad that those pain care providers who dedicate their careers to helping people in chronic pain are at increased risk of violence from the very people they are trying to help.
At the same time, what some observers call the breakdown in the delivery of chronic pain care is contributing to this troubling trend.