How Should A Doctor Handle A Threat To His Staff?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a person
making threats in a medical office.

Question:
What should a doctor do if someone comes in a threatens him and his staff?

Answer:
Hello and thank you for sharing your workplace concerns with us.  We are not attorneys and we don’t know the laws for your city or the details of the threats, but there are some general options available.

1. If the threat was severe—a threat to kill someone or harm them seriously or cause serious harm to property—the doctor should call the police and say he or she wants to make a report of a crime involving serious threats.

2.  If the threat is not as severe, it is still worthwhile to call the police so a record can be made of the threats and the police can be aware of the situation and the person involved.

3. If the threat is not about physical harm or harm to property, the doctor should talk to an attorney for advice about what to do. An example would be if the person said he was going to destroy the doctor’s business.

4. In other situations, the doctor can decide what he or she wants to do based on how credible the threat seems to be or how much of an overall problem the person has become. For example, if the person making the threat is calling or coming in often or harassing employees or patients regularly, it could be the doctor will want to make a police report about harassment instead of about threats.

Even though the doctor doesn’t need an attorney to make a police report, talking to an attorney may be useful in any of the situations  mentioned above. An attorney can give some advice about how to make the report and what evidence is needed. The attorney might also be able to assist in getting a restraining order to make it less likely the person will come back to the doctor’s office.

Also keep in mind that any of the staff may make a police report if they are included in the threat.  A final thought is that if the threat is severe, the whole staff should take precautions about their welfare and safety–coming and going to work, while in the office and even at home.

I hope this brief advice will at least point you in the right direction. It doesn’t appear that you are the doctor involved, so it may be the doctor is seeking advice already.

Best wishes to you with this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens with this concerning matter.

Tina Rowe
Ask the Workplace Doctors