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J Emerg Med. 2012 Sep;43(3):523-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2012.02.056. Epub 2012 May 24.

Workplace violence in emergency medicine: current knowledge and future directions.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.



Workplace violence (WPV) has increasingly become commonplace in the United States (US), and particularly in the health care setting. Assaults are the third leading cause of occupational injury-related deaths for all US workers. Among all health care settings, Emergency Departments (EDs) have been identified specifically as high-risk settings for WPV.


This article reviews recent epidemiology and research on ED WPV and prevention; discusses practical actions and resources that ED providers and management can utilize to reduce WPV in their ED; and identifies areas for future research. A list of resources for the prevention of WPV is also provided.


ED staff faces substantially elevated risks of physical assaults compared to other health care settings. As with other forms of violence including elder abuse, child abuse, and domestic violence, WPV in the ED is a preventable public health problem that needs urgent and comprehensive attention. ED clinicians and ED leadership can: 1) obtain hospital commitment to reduce ED WPV; 2) obtain a work-site-specific analysis of their ED; 3) employ site-specific violence prevention interventions at the individual and institutional level; and 4) advocate for policies and programs that reduce risk for ED WPV.


Violence against ED health care workers is a real problem with significant implications to the victims, patients, and departments/institutions. ED WPV needs to be addressed urgently by stakeholders through continued research on effective interventions specific to Emergency Medicine. Coordination, cooperation, and active commitment to the development of such interventions are critical.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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