Zernike W, Sharpe P. International Journal of Nursing Practice 1998; 4: 126–133
Patient aggression in a general hospital setting: Do nurses perceive it to be a problem?
Aggressive incidents in the general hospital setting have been recognised as problematic for health care workers. Despite an awareness of the problem by nursing staff, there is little known about these incidents. A survey was therefore conducted in a metropolitan tertiary hospital to determine the prevalence and extent of patient aggression in order to direct future management strategies. A survey tool elicited information about the aggressor, factors leading to the incident, the nature of the incident, how it was managed and the outcome. Sixty-eight incidents of aggression were reported over a five-month period; all were reported by nursing staff. The majority of incidents occurred after hours when staff resources were limited. Frequent actions taken by staff to manage aggressive patients were chemical and physical restraint. Nurses identified that many of the incidents were unavoidable despite the aggression management training they had received. This paper outlines strategies taken by the hospital to address the issues identified in the survey.