Proctologists, urologists, nurses, animal researchers all face various forms of abuse.

A recent report by the American Medical Association puts to rest the notion that abortionists are the only health care personal being victimized by violence.

The report, “Violence in the Medical Workplace: Prevention Strategies,” observes that the hospital emergency room personnel and psychiatrists—not abortionists—are the health care workers most susceptible to violent attacks. Fifty-three per cent of hospital assaults are reported to occur in American hospital emergency departments, while 40 per cent of American psychiatrists are said to be assaulted at some point during their careers.

Although the report lists abortionists as being in a “high risk” category, it places them along side urologists, proctologists, geriatric care workers, and researchers who use animals in their studies in that class.

“Hospitals—sanctuaries for the sick, injure, and dying—have fallen victim to America’s epidemic of violence,” says the reports. It adds the AMA’s young physician section has become increasingly concerned about attacks against physicians and health care professionals in recent years.

The report says between 1980 and 1984, 141 hospital workers suffered fatal work injures, with homicide being the second most frequent cause of death. Meanwhile, homicide was the leading cause of death from work-related injuries in the healthcare industry overall.

A 1990 survey found that in 160 American hospitals that year, there were 32 sexual assaults, 703 other assaults, 24 armed robberies, one homicide, and 124 bomb threats.

The same year, 60 of 104 California hospitals reported injuries to staff, visitors, or patients as a result of violence. In 41 per cent of those cases, a gun was used. Overall, these hospitals reported 403 monthly acts of violence against staff.

While news media played up the murders of abortionists David Gunn and John Barrett in recent years, the report lists murders of other medical personnel which, for some reason, received little or no national press coverage. Among them:

  • Psychiatrist Thomas Brigham and a psychologist were shot to death in 1994 by a man they had formerly evaluated in Spokane, Washington. The man injured 23 other people.
  • Plastic surgeon Martin Sullivan was killed in 1993 by a man who was angry about “fake Aryan beauty brought about by plastic surgery.”
  • A gunman killed a nurse and an emergency medical technician student in San Diego, California in 1992 after his father died during surgery the previous day
  • A patient angry with the treatment he had received fatally shot Dr. John Keminik in 1992 at a University of Michigan Hospitals clinic
  • A man seeking to kill his physician murdered a nurse and held several people hostage at a hospital in Sandy, Utah in 1991
  • A family physician in Louisville, KY, was shot to death in 1990 by a patient who then shot himself.

“These selected examples are the proverbial ‘tip of the iceberg,’” notes the report. “They do not even begin to reflect the numbers of individuals who have been struck by a patient or whose harm is non-fatal.”

The report doesn’t surprise Dr. Carmelo Scime, president of the Hamilton Chapter of Physicians for life. He says it’s to be expected that hospital emergency room personnel are far more at risk of violent attack than abortionists.

Scime is also not surprised by how the media overlook violence against other healthcare providers in favour of those who perform abortions. “Truth is usually the first casualty, then logic.”