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Patient violence, physicians treatment decisions, and patient welfare: Evidence from China

Xin Zhao, Xiaoxue Li (), Benno Torgler and Uwe Dulleck ()

Health Economics, 2021, vol. 30, issue 6, 1461-1479

Abstract: Although violence in healthcare settings has become a common occurrence worldwide, there is limited evidence on the spillover effects of patient violence on physicians' medical decisions. Utilizing microdata on inpatients from a major public hospital, we investigated how extreme patient violence—the murder of a physician in China—affected physicians' treatment decisions and patient welfare in a hospital geographically distant from the murder site. By matching this patient dataset to physician profiles, we performed a difference‐in‐differences analysis in which the treatment group comprised patients admitted shortly before and after the murder shock, and the control group consisted of patients admitted during the same months in the previous year. Immediately after the shock, the provision of medical treatment was notably higher, with a 16.9% increase in the number of surgeries and a 9.5% increase in the treatment expenditures. However, patient health outcomes were worse, with an increased mortality rate of 0.9% points. Findings suggest that patient violence dramatically changed physician behavior, causing negative consequences on patients even when the healthcare workers were not direct victims of patient violence.

Date: 2021
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