Teddy bears, flowers and a balloon were all part of the growing vigil for Dr. Walter Reynolds, who was murdered Monday inside the Village Mall Walk-in Clinic in North Red Deer. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Teddy bears, flowers and a balloon were all part of the growing vigil for Dr. Walter Reynolds, who was murdered Monday inside the Village Mall Walk-in Clinic in North Red Deer. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Physicians often face aggressive patients

Almost all say they have been abused by patients or their families at some point

The killing of a Red Deer doctor highlights the dangers physicians and health-care workers routinely face on the job.

It became enough of an issue that in 2019, the federal government’s standing committee on health held hearings into violence against health-care workers.

Workers told the committee that workplace violence is widespread in health settings.

There has been little recent Canadian research into how prevalent violence, harassment and abuse are in physicians’ offices.

A 2010 study by the College of Family Physicians of Canada found 98 per cent had experienced at least one incident of minor abuse, including everything from harassment to stalking.

Three out of four reported they had been victims of major abuse, and four out of 10 said they had experienced serious abuse.

One-third of respondents had been exposed to aggressive behaviour by a patient or a patient’s family in the previous month.

Red Deer’s Dr. Walter Reynolds was a victim of deadly violence when he was attacked and killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday.

Colleague Dr. Peter Bouch, who like Reynolds, came to Canada from South Africa, said the incident, while rare, has doctors thinking more about office safety.

“I think your initial gut reaction is one of worry, but we need to, as physicians, sit down and come up with maybe a plan …” he said.

Useful measures might include better screening of patients, or requiring that bags that could conceal a weapon be left at the front, rather than bringing them into the office or examination rooms.

“It’s really sad that an event like this has to precipitate this, but really, we need to get together to try and come up with a working plan,” said Bouch.

Reynold’s death has been a “major shock” for all local physicians, especially those who came from South Africa and were drawn to Canada by its safe environment.

Red Deer RCMP Supt. Gerald Grobmeier said Reynolds was targeted and it was not a random attack. Grobmeier would not comment on whether the accused was a patient of the doctor, or what may have led to the violence.

The incident, in which a police officer suffered minor injuries, is rare, he said.

“In my 27 years of policing, I have not seen a doctor attacked like that,” said Grobmeier.

In its report, the standing committee made nine recommendations, including adopting a framework to prevent violence and raise public awareness about the problem.

It was also recommended that the Criminal Code be amended to make assaulting a worker in the health-care field an aggravating factor in sentencing, which could lead to tougher penalties.

More funding for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to come up with best practices and ways to prevent future violence was also recommended, along with more money to address staff shortages.



News tips

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

physicians

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pictured left to right: Tyrone McDonald, Fire Chief Jamie Wilkinson, General Manager of Community & Protective Services Paul Edginton, Uwe Kurth (ASFA), City Manager Sue Howard, Deputy Fire Chief Alex Plant, Mayor Tyler Gandam. Photo/ City of Wetaskiwin.
City of Wetaskiwin Fire Services sends gear to firefighters in Paraguay

Former City of Wetaskiwin Fire Services member spearheading this initiative.

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported an additional 456 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Five new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, two in Red Deer

Province reports 456 new cases of COVID-19

File photo
Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit recovers valuable stolen property

Property valued at over $50,000 recovered by Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit.

Black Press file photo
Leduc RCMP arrest male for multiple break and enters and theft

34-year-old Michael Gilchrist has been arrested for his involvement in the thefts.

25-year-old Rachelle Okrusko has been missing since Jan. 12, 2021. Photo provided by Wetaskiwin RCMP.
Update: Wetaskiwin RCMP looking for missing woman; Rachelle Okrusko is no longer missing.

25-year-old Rachelle Okrusko has been missing since Jan. 12, 2021.

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy’s Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. Public opposition to the Alberta government’s plans to expand coal mining in the Rocky Mountains appears to be growing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File
Alberta cancels coal leases, pauses future sales, as opposition increases

New Democrat environment critic Marlin Schmidt welcomed the suspension

In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy’s Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File)
First Nations seek to intervene in court challenge of coal policy removal

Bearspaw, Ermineskin and Whitefish First Nations are among those looking to intervene

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

Central Alberta’s Catherine Hayreceived a letter from the Government of Canada recently stating she had to repay the government. Photo submitted
Central Albertan asked to repay CERB amount

Catherine Hay says she received a letter in November saying she had to completely repay the benefit

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
No Pfizer vaccines arriving in Canada next week; feds still expect 4M doses by end of March

More cases of U.K. variant, South African variant found in Canada

Health-care workers wait in line at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine, experts say

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy

An empty Peel and Sainte-Catherine street is shown in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Poll finds strong support for COVID-19 curfews despite doubts about effectiveness

The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19

Lacombe is looking at its options for reclaiming sewage lagoons that are no longer needed. Vesta Energy Ltd. has signed a deal to use three lagoons to store water for fracking.
Map from City of Lacombe
Energy company to use former Lacombe sewage lagoons to store water for fracking

Vesta Energy Ltd. will pay Lacombe more than $100,000 a year in 20-year deal

Most Read