Saturday, January 17, 2009

Survey: Most ER doctors suspect police brutality

Nearly 98 percent of emergency-room physicians report that they believe some patients were victims of suspected excessive force by police, a national survey concludes. Yet most of the suspected incidents went unreported because no laws require physicians to alert authorities.

The survey of 315 physicians, contained in the January issue of the Emergency Medicine Journal and based on 2002 data, is believed to be the first doctors' account of suspected police brutality, says H. Range Hutson, lead author and assistant professor of emergency medicine at Harvard. The responses were based on interactions with patients who were brought in by police or who said officers caused their injuries. Ninety-five percent of the doctors reported injuries caused by fists and feet.

Hutson says the survey and analysis of findings were in the works for years. National police groups challenged the survey, saying it would be hard for physicians to know if injuries resulted from excessive force if they were not present during the encounters. Unlike cases of suspected domestic violence, elderly abuse and child abuse, which doctors must report to authorities, physicians are not required to notify anyone of suspected excessive force by police, Hutson says.

The report says the findings suggest that national emergency-medicine groups and police should work to develop guidelines for "this complex issue."

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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