Future Healthcare

When a patient threatens harm

Business Dilemmas

Kathryn Leask

Kathryn Leask

Le Penseur de Rodin (Laeken - Belgique)Dr Kathryn Leask advises a private GP on what to do when a patient threatens violence





Dilemma 1

Can I tell police about patient? 

Upset man with arms crossed, horizontalQ I am a private GP and have been seeing a patient who has a number of minor medical problems. He has also suffered with depression and alcohol misuse in the past and has previous criminal convictions for violence. 

When I saw him for a follow-up appointment this morning, he was very agitated and angry because his partner had left him for another man, whom he knew. The patient had been drinking more heavily over the last week or so and said that ‘they would not get away with this’. 

The patient said he knew where the other man lived and which pub he went to and was going to stab him with a kitchen knife to ‘make him suffer’. The patient was still very angry when he left my clinic room.

How concerned should I be about this and should I inform the police?