A new campaign and website aims to help Belgian GPs avoid situations where they may be faced with verbal or physical aggression from patients.
The Federal Departments of the Interior and of Public Health launched the drive after it was found GPs were often confronted after refusing to write a prescription or issue a sickness certificate.
Last year, Belgian Police logged 557 complaints over offences committed against GPs in their surgery, along with 44 tickets handed out for violent offences against property, mainly vandalism. A few cases of criminal fires were also reported.
The real figures are assumed to be much higher as most of the GPs do not lodge complaints because they know the patients. The new campaign and website seek to raise the GPs' awareness of existing risks.
A study has shown that in almost half of the reported cases, patients were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
As a result of this consultation process, the website details all the prevention measures that GPs can take as well as how to react in front of an aggressor, while addressing specific questions such as the scope of professional secrecy in such cases.