It took a while but she has now managed to turn the page. In June 2021, the assistant at a dental practice in the Saint-Brieuc region (Côtes-d’Armor) was the victim of a violent attack. Unable to find a place at a dentist and wanting to be seen urgently, a man stormed into the office that day in a fury. “There was an altercation with my colleague,” says the young woman. I then intervened and that’s when he scratched me, tore off the glasses and spat on me. »
This story is far from an isolated case. On October 17, a dentist was attacked with a knife and his assistant hit by a disgruntled patient in Tours (Indre-et-Loire). Even more dramatic, a young 30-year-old dentist ended his life on September 6 in the office where he worked in Cahors (Lot). In a letter left on his desk, he indicated that he could no longer bear the pressure linked to his job.
“A deep malaise in the profession”
An accumulation of news items which worries the profession, faced, like all players in the health system, with an increase in violence in recent years. “No one was talking about it before but dental surgeons and their teams are in great pain, there is a deep malaise in the profession”, underlines Doctor Janig Bruchier, dentist in Saint-Brieuc and vice-president of the union Dental Union.
In more than twenty years of career, the professional admits to having never been physically attacked. But over the years, she saw anger and violence creep into her office. “My assistants have to endure verbal attacks,” she says. We also once had a patient who wanted to destroy everything but I managed to manage the situation because I knew him. »
A shortage of dentists in many territories
This increase in aggression and incivility is largely explained by the shortage of dentists which affects many territories. A problem which is not new but which has worsened in recent years with numerous retirements which have not been replaced. Covid also didn’t help with the three-month closure of practices, effectively lengthening waiting times. Overwhelmed with demands, many dentists find themselves forced to refuse new patients. “We have people in distress on the phone and it’s hard to tell them that we can’t receive them,” admits the assistant victim of the attack.
After making multiple calls, some more upset patients even decide to come directly to the office. “We explain to them that we are already doing our best but some do not want to understand,” indicates this Breton dental surgeon who wishes to remain anonymous. To avoid attacks, she decided two years ago to install an intercom in the courtyard of her office. “It’s a shame to come to this but we have to barricade ourselves,” she admits.
Stress management training
Faced with this rampant insecurity, the Dental Union tries to react. Thursday in Rennes, the union organized its first training on the theme of stress management and non-violent communication. “I teach them to develop their listening skills by trying to understand the needs of the person in front of them,” explains trainer Béatrix Piedtenu. Because to reduce tensions, you must already be able to hear the anger even if this is not always the solution. »
Requested by other professionals, Union Dentaire should renew the training throughout France in the coming months. At the same time, the union also launched a poster campaign in surgery waiting rooms to inform patients of the risks incurred in the event of attack.
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