Introduction: Workplace violence in the emergency department (ED) is a serious threat to staff and is likely to go unreported. We sought to identify the incidence of violence among staff at our academic ED over a six-month period.
Methods: An anonymous survey was sent to all ED staff, asking whether respondents had experienced verbal abuse or physical assault over the prior six months and whether they had reported it. Those working in the department <6 months were excluded from analysis. We used chi-squared comparison to analyze the results.
Results: We analyzed 242 responses. Overall, 208 (86%) respondents indicated being verbally abused in the preceding six months, and 90 (37%) indicated being physically assaulted. Security officers had the highest incidence of verbal abuse (98%), followed by nursing (95%), patient care assistants (PCA) (90%) and clinicians (90%), phlebotomists (75%), care team assistants (73%), registration staff (50%) and electrocardiogram (ECG)/radiology technicians (50%). Security also had the highest incidence of physical assault (73%), followed by nursing (49%), PCAs (30%), clinicians (24%), phlebotomists (17%), and ECG/radiology technicians (13%). A total of 140 (69%) non-security personnel indicated that they never report incidents of violence.
Conclusion: Our results indicate that violence in the ED affects more than just nurses and doctors. As health systems seek to improve the safety of their employees in violence-prone areas, it is imperative that they direct initiatives to the entire healthcare team as no one group is immune.