THURSDAY, Oct. 4, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Nearly half of emergency medicine physicians report having been physically assaulted at work, according to a report from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).

Researchers invited current ACEP members to participate in a poll to examine emergency medicine physicians’ views on the level, type, frequency, and impact of violence experienced in the emergency department. The surveys included about 20 questions.

A total of 3,539 responses were received. According to the survey results, 47 percent of physicians reported having been physically assaulted and 71 percent reported having witnessed another assault. In 97 percent of cases, the assault was committed by a patient, while 28 percent of assaults were committed by a patient family member or friend. In 70 percent of cases, the hospital administration or security responded to the assault; the most common responses were to put a behavioral flag in the patient’s medical chart (28 percent) or have the patient arrested (21 percent). Overall, 77 percent of respondents believe that violence in the emergency department has harmed patient care, with adverse effects such as loss of productivity by emergency staff, emotional trauma, increased wait times, and patients leaving without being seen.

“Violence in emergency departments is not only affecting medical staff, it is affecting patients,” Vidor Friedman, M.D., president of ACEP, said in a statement. “When violence occurs in an emergency department, patients can be injured or traumatized to the point of leaving without being seen.”

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