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Med J Aust. 1994 Aug 15;161(4):254-8.

The violence management team. An approach to aggressive behaviour in a general hospital.

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Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford Park, SA.



To describe the establishment of a violence management team (VMT) to manage patients who exhibit violent behaviour in a general hospital (Flinders Medical Centre), and to review data collected in the first 44 months of operation.


The VMT consisted of a doctor, a senior nurse and four orderlies. Calls to the team were recorded and audited. Data were collected from patient case notes and supplemented, where necessary, with information from medical and nursing staff.


There were 282 calls for the VMT during the study period, most often to patients with organic mental disorders (45%), substance abuse disorders (18%) and personality disorders (15%). In 30% of calls, verbal placation alone was sufficient to manage the patient; however, 62% of patients needed physical restraint (i.e., were physically held by team members) and 53% were administered a sedative medication.


Violent behaviour in patients in a general hospital is an important problem, often caused by organic mental disorders. This, and the need to restrain aggressive patients so that they can receive essential medical care, suggest that such behaviour should be treated as a clinical problem rather than one for security guards or the police. The VMT provides a mechanism for dealing with aggressive patients which ensures good patient management, as well as protecting the health and safety of staff. It is also a monitor for quality assurance purposes, and provides data to determine the causes of patient violence and to implement prevention programs.

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