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When knife-wielding patient is not regarded as violent

A patient with a history of alcohol abuse, mental health problems and suicidal tendencies presented at one evening surgery with a knife in his pocket. He took the knife out, pointed it towards his wrist and demanded an urgent admission ­ otherwise he would slash his wrists.

My locum kept her cool, took the knife from him and arranged an admission. The next day we requested that the patient be removed from our list as potentially violent and be added to the list of the GP who looks after violent patients in our area. But, we were told, because he did not threaten the doctor or the staff, the direction of the knife was towards his wrists and the police were not called, he was by definition not violent.

But what about warning other GPs? 'Oh, you can't be serious,' our PCT replied. 'That would amount to a breach of confidentiality!'

Dr Anita Sharma

Oldham

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