Violence and Abuse against Staff in the Emergency Department, a Descriptive Analysis of a Two-Centre Staff Survey

Pourya Pouryahya, Alastair Meyer, Simon Sherington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch


Background: "Violence" and "Abuse" against staff in the emergency department (ED) is not uncommon, however, there is a lack of data regarding the prevalence and characteristics of such incidents.
Objectives: To estimate the prevalence, type, and effect of violence and abuse experienced by staff during each shift in two emergency departments in the Monash Health network.
Method: During two separate two-week periods surveys were distributed to ED staff in two metropolitan Melbourne hospitals. Staff were identified by shift, area, and role. Staff were asked if they had experienced violence or abuse during that shift, how many times this occurred, whether it was initiated by a patient or accompanying person, the type of violence or abuse, whether alcohol or drugs were involved, if any injury or emotional effect resulted, and whether the incident was reported.
Results: 362 responses were recorded among ED staff during the study periods, of which, 36.5% reported some kind of violence or abuse. Majority of the victims were nursing staff with the type of violence predominately being verbal abuse. Among those, 22.1% of participants had been affected emotionally and 1.5% were physically injured.
Conclusion: Experience of violence and abuse against staff in the ED is frequent and affects ED workers in every shift. The vast majority of the incidents were not formally reported, and any future studies assessing incidence of such events cannot rely on formal reporting alone.
Original languageEnglish
Article number040
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of General and Emergency Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2019

Cite this