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Nurses in the eye of the storm: a study of violence against healthcare personnel working in the emergency department
  1. Arian Zaboli1,
  2. Serena Sibilio2,
  3. Gabriele Magnarelli3,
  4. Michael Mian1,4,
  5. Francesco Brigo1,
  6. Gianni Turcato5
  1. 1Innovation, Research and Teaching Service (SABES-ASDAA), Teaching Hospital of the Paracelsus Medical Private University (PMU), Alto Adige Health Agency, Bolzano, Italy
  2. 2Public Health, Universität Basel Institut für Pflegewissenschaft, Basel, Switzerland
  3. 3Emergency Department, Ospedale di Merano, Merano, Italy
  4. 4Claudiana Higher Provincial School of Health Professions, Bolzano, Italy
  5. 5Department of Internal Medicine, Intermediate Care Unit, Alto Vicentino Hospital (AULSS-7), Santorso, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Arian Zaboli, Innovation, Research and Teaching Service (SABES-ASDAA), Teaching Hospital of the Paracelsus Medical Private University (PMU), Alto Adige Health Agency, 39100, Bolzano, Italy; zaboliarian{at}

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Episodes of physical and verbal violence, as well as psychological humiliation, are experienced daily by ED staff.1 These incidents are increasing exponentially and can cause workplace disaffection contributing to severe burnout of ED healthcare personnel.1 2

Several studies have investigated aggression and violence in the ED, focusing on the characteristics of patients who assault healthcare personnel in the ED. Conversely, the present study aimed at investigating which healthcare worker in the ED is the most vulnerable and where violence mostly occurs.


We conducted a prospective observational study in the ED of Merano Hospital, Italy (52 000 ED admission in 2022) from 1 January 2022 to 31 August 2023. The ED staff include 38 nurses and 11 physicians. In January 2022, a hospital management initiative was set up to ensure reporting episodes of violence by patients against hospital personnel using a prespecified form (online supplemental material). One form was completed for each episode of violence, even in the case of violence against several subjects. The ED …

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  • Handling editor Mary Dawood

  • Contributors AZ—conceptualisation, methodology, investigation, formal analysis, data curation and writing (original draft preparation). SS—investigation. GM—investigation. MM—supervision. FB—supervision, writing (original draft preparation) and writing (review and editing). GT—methodology and writing (original draft preparation).

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.