Hong Kong Journal of Emergency Medicine

Volume 10 Number 1, January 2003

Emergency department violence: a local scene

CH Chung

Objectives: To study the nature, frequency and magnitude of violence in a local emergency department. Design: Prospective epidemiological study in a three-month period, during which involved staff filled in a survey form immediately after violence incidents. Setting: Accident & Emergency Department of a public general hospital in the northeastern New Territories. Population: Assailants and victims of violence in the emergency department. Main outcome measures: Nature of violence, frequency, cause, morbidity, epidemiological characteristics of assailants and victims. Results: There were 25 incidents with 26 assailants in the three-month period. The great majority was verbal abuse only (64%). No weapon was involved. Long waiting time (36%), deranged mental condition (28%) and dissatisfaction with service (20%) were the leading causes of violence. Assailants showed a predominance of male (69%) and age between 21-50 years. They were either patients (69%) or accompanying persons (31%). Nurses (59%) and to a lesser extent doctors (23%), were the main victims. Conclusion: The incidence of emergency department violence (0.08%) was low and the majority was verbal abuse only. Nurses bore the brunt of the violence. Long waiting time, confused patients and dissatisfied patients were high risk factors. (Hong Kong j.emerg.med. 2003;10:24-29)

Keywords : Emergencies, emergency service, hospital, hostility, violence

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