Incidence and Prevalence of Violence toward Health Care Workers in Emergency Department of a Tertiary Care Hospital in Karachi: A Cross-Sectional Survey

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Rachel Zareen Khan, Name: Ramsha Zaheer, Anum Zehra Raza, Warda Asif, Sidra Akram Hasan


Background: Violent attacks and abuse at emergency departments (EDs) are becoming more serious and disturbing worldwide, and health care workers are more susceptible to violence than other professionals.

Objective: We aimed to determine the frequency and nature of workplace violence against health care workers (HCW) in the emergency department of our hospital.

Methods: As part of a descriptive cross-sectional investigation, we gave a previously validated questionnaire to health care practitioners in emergency department. The questionnaire was comprised of 22 questions that assessed respondents' experiences with workplace violence and/or abuse, protective measures, applicable workplace regulations, and actions taken to recognize and respond to violence and abuse against healthcare practitioners. All statistical tests were conducted using descriptive statistics, and P values of <0.05 were considered to be statistically significant.

Results: The healthcare professionals (N=145) from emergency room volunteered to participate in the study. One hundred and forty-five respondents completed the poll, for a response rate of 99%. Over ninety percent of respondents were between 20 and 39 years of age, and the proportion of men and women was quite even. Then, 20% of respondents reported being physically assaulted, but 32% reported being assaulted with a weapon. 75% of respondents reported verbal harassment or bullying by patients or their family members. The most prevalent response to emotional abuse by employees was "told the offender to stop" (43.4%), followed by "took no action" (37.9%). In addition, 83% of respondents indicated that there was a policy and procedure in place for reporting workplace violence, whereas 30% stated that none of these measures had been applied.

Conclusion: In Pakistan, HCWs of emergency departments experience work place violence which is very pervasive and can be serious in terms of live usage of firearms. Training of employees to recognize and report possible aggressiveness together with a focus on this under-reported issue can result in a significant reduction in incidents.

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