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For Release:
June 26, 2007

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Linda Nasta

Report Highlights Workplace Violence in Emergency Departments New Jersey Hospitals Addressing the Problem; Get Recommendations for Improvement



A new study says that while New Jersey hospitals have worked at reducing violence in their emergency departments, more needs to be done to protect healthcare workers, visitors and patients.


The study, which was funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), was conducted by a team of researchers from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), the University of Iowa, the University of North Carolina and the California Department of Health Services.


DHSS Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D., said the report speaks to the many facets of hospital administration that need to be active in reducing workplace violence.  "Hospitals are taking a hard look at policies and practices, the adequacy of staff training, potential controls within the emergency department environment and the effectiveness of security equipment," he said.


Fifty of New Jersey's 79 licensed acute care hospitals participated in the study, which acknowledges they have broadened security and safety programs to reduce violence in the emergency room.  


Eddy A. Bresnitz, M.D., M.S., DHSS Deputy Commissioner and State Epidemiologist, said the study highlights the vulnerability of healthcare staff who often work under high-stress conditions.  "Their job is to work one-on-one with patients and to address the concerns of family members," Dr. Bresnitz said.  "They need all the security and training we can provide to better protect them from potential harm."


The majority of hospitals have trained workers in violence prevention, but to be effective, the researchers recommend that training be enhanced to be more comprehensive, interactive and specific to the hospital.  All staff members, including physicians, and volunteers should receive training.  New staff and volunteers should also be trained on a timely basis.


Further, hospitals need to improve reporting of violent events and standardize the way they document incidents to inform new prevention strategies.  Interaction between security personnel and healthcare staff should be better coordinated, and security equipment installed based on needs specific to their emergency department.  A system for communicating the presence of potentially dangerous clients should also be instituted.


The report can be found on the DHSS website at


Later this year, the study group will issue findings specific to workplace violence prevention in psychiatric units at acute care hospitals in New Jersey.


The findings of the complete study, which included hospitals in New Jersey and California, will also be published later this year.





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