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Violence Against Healthcare Workers in a Pediatric Emergency Department

Gillespie, Gordon Lee PhD, RN, PHCNS-BC, CEN, CCRN, CPEN, FAEN; Gates, Donna M. EdD, RN, FAAN; Miller, Margaret EdD, RN, CNS; Howard, Patricia Kunz PhD, RN, CEN, FAEN

Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal: January-March 2010 - Volume 32 - Issue 1 - p 68–82
doi: 10.1097/TME.0b013e3181c8b0b4
Cases of Note

Workplace violence (WPV) perpetrated by patients and visitors against nurses and physicians is a problem in adult emergency departments (EDs), but largely unrecognized and unreported in pediatric EDs. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the WPV that occurred in a pediatric ED and the negative effects on the workers. Data included transcribed interviews with 31 pediatric ED workers, nonparticipant observations, digital photographs, and archival records and were analyzed using a modified constant comparative analysis method. Participants perceived that both genders and all occupational groups were at risk for experiencing verbal and physical WPV. Common perpetrator characteristics were patients receiving a psychiatric evaluation and visitors exhibiting acute anxiety. Effects were experienced by workers, perpetrators, patient bystanders, and healthcare employers. It is concluded that WPV is a problem in this pediatric ED, and interventions need to be implemented to promote the safety of the workers and patients.

University of Cincinnati College of Nursing, Cincinnati, Ohio (Drs Gillespie, Gates, and Miller); and UK Chandler Medical Center Emergency and Trauma Services (Dr Howard), Lexington, Kentucky.

Corresponding Author: Gordon Lee Gillespie, PhD, RN, PHCNS-BC, CEN, CCRN, CPEN, FAEN, University of Cincinnati College of Nursing, PO Box 210038, Cincinnati, OH 45221 (

This study was partially supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Health Pilot Research Project Training Program of the University of Cincinnati Education and Research Center Grant T42/OH008432-02.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.