By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
LOS ANGELES–New research published in the Emergency Medicine Journal indicates that excessive police violence is suspected in a significant number of emergency room visits and treatment in the United States, according to a recent survey of physicians.
Researchers surveyed 393 emergency room doctors and almost all of them said that they had treated patients they thought were abused by police. The survey of academic emergency physicians indicated that there is only limited training or policies for the management of such cases.
The survey was designed to determine the clinical experience and management and training of emergency physicians that suspect use of excessive force by law enforcement officers.
According to ScienceDaily, an online science, health, technology and environment news source, other findings included:
-Doctors in public facilities were four times as likely to report treating injuries that involved excessive police force than those at university or community teaching emergency departments;
-Blunt trauma injury was cited more frequently;
-Three out of four cited overly tight handcuffs; and
-Seven out of 10 made no reports and 95 percent said there was no department policy for reporting their suspicions.
“It just verifies what we already know. That it’s coming from a new angle, emergency rooms, and one that I had not thought about, makes me hope that this information will have a bearing on the violence,” said Gloria Hernandez, of the Oct 22nd Coalition in Fresno, Calif.
Ms. Hernandez is a mental health patient advocate who sees a lot of clients that enter her office due to police injuries. She also advocates for police accountability and oversight as a firsthand witness to illegal police violence.
One of her clients incurred a $7,000 emergency room bill after police officers beat her 16-year-old son, although they did not charge him with any crime, said Ms. Hernandez. Juvenile hall refused to book the minor until he received medical attention, Ms. Hernandez said, and sadly, she has not been able to find an attorney who will file a claim for the family.
“The fact is clinics and hospitals are already closing down and the health care system is stretched too far. We need to look at priorities and what we really want our emergency rooms to be dealing with, because if we’re already seeing numbers of people going in emergency rooms who are beaten up by cops, I would prefer that they have to focus on natural medical emergencies, rather than manmade ones,” Ms. Hernandez said.