Introduction: Several studies have shown that workplace violence in the emergency department (ED) is common. Residents may be among the most vulnerable staff, as they have the least experience with these volatile encounters. The goal for this study was to quantify and describe acts of violence against emergency medicine (EM) residents by patients and visitors and to identify perceived barriers to safety. Methods: This cross-sectional survey study queried EM residents at multiple New York City hospitals. The primary outcome was the incidence of violence experienced by residents while working in the ED. The secondary outcomes were the subtypes of violence experienced by residents, as well as the perceived barriers to safety while at work. Results: A majority of residents (66%, 78/119) reported experiencing at least one act of physical violence during an ED shift. Nearly all residents (97%, 115/119) experienced verbal harassment, 78% (93/119) had experienced verbal threats, and 52% (62/119) reported sexual harassment. Almost a quarter of residents felt safe "Occasionally," "Seldom" or "Never" while at work. Patient-based factors most commonly cited as contributory to violence included substance use and psychiatric disease. Conclusion: Self-reported violence against EM residents appears to be a significant problem. Incidence of violence and patient risk factors are similar to what has been found previously for other ED staff. Understanding the prevalence of workplace violence as well as the related systems, environmental, and patient-based factors is essential for future prevention efforts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine