A Closer Look at Violence in the ED

The stressful nature of an ED visit has been shown to increase the likelihood of violent acts for many reasons. Common reasons include a high frequency of pain among patients, long wait times to be seen by physicians or to receive treatment for pain, and a general overall frustration with the healthcare system. Furthermore, the patients who present to the ED are often those who have a tendency toward violence, including people who are using or seeking drugs, are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and/ or have underlying dementia or psychosis. “All of these factors increase the possibility of violent acts occurring in the ED,” says Roger D. Tillotson, MD. “Considering the escalating trend of violence toward healthcare workers, it’s important to examine the nature of these risks so that we can develop new strategies to mitigate workplace violence.” Intriguing New Data on ED Violence Most ED personnel are aware that violence continues to be problematic, but the literature on the topic is scarce. In the May 2011 Journal of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Tillotson and colleagues had a study published that sought to estimate the overall incidence of violence experienced by faculty and resident physicians working in academic EDs in the United States. “Our specific goal was to estimate the proportion of physicians who had experienced at least one type of violent act while working in the ED,” adds Dr. Tillotson. “We also sought to obtain information on violence prevention strategies that have been implemented by EDs.” The analysis involved 263 emergency medicine residents and attending physicians who reported 271 different types of violence experienced in the...