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The Penn Medicine doctor who was stabbed is a second year psychiatry resident at Pennsylvania Hospital. Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

A Penn Medicine doctor stabbed multiple times by a patient this year sued Pennsylvania Hospital on Wednesday, accusing the hospital of disregarding the safety of their practicing physicians.

The lawsuit filed to the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court contained an account of the stabbing that occurred on February 23, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The complaint detailed how the psychiatric patient allegedly took a knife from a lunch tray and inflicted multiple injuries across the physician’s head and face. The goal of the lawsuit was to address the hospital’s ineptitude in handling a situation of patient-on-doctor violence.

The physician — who remains under the pseudonym “Dr. A” — is a second-year psychiatry resident at Pennsylvania Hospital. The accused individual, Rakeem Anderson, had been previously admitted to the neurology floor where Dr. A and a medical student were attending to him on the day of the stabbing. 

According to the doctor’s lawyers, no staff or guards were on alert in case of such an attack, and there were no panic buttons in any accessible location near Anderson’s room. After the stabbing occurred, the hospital released a statement saying that “there was no danger at any time to other patients and staff at the hospital” and operations continued as normal.

Even as reports of patient attacks against doctors continue to be filed in increasing numbers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania Hospital made no progress towards improving the security of their healthcare workers, the physician's lawyers noted.

A statement made to the Inquirer by a Penn Medicine spokesperson on June 16 said that “ensuring the safety of our patients and staff in all settings is a top priority.” Yet, the statement contained no further comment on any specific allegation made by the lawsuit.

“Doctors make sacrifices every day for the health and well-being of their patients. They should not have to sacrifice their own safety to perform their job,” stated Brett J. Kaminsky, one of Dr. A’s lawyers. “This attack was no isolated incident, as previously stated by the hospital. It is a well-known problem in the medical field that is unreported due to a culture of silence.”