Author ORCID Identifier : Elizabeth Donnelly

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emergency medical services, occupational health and safety, paramedics, violence, workplace violence


Paramedics are increasingly being subjected to violence, creating the potential for significant physical and psychological harm. Where a patient has a history of violent behavior, hazard flags—applied either to the individual, their residential address, or phone number—can alert paramedics to the possibility of violence, potentially reducing the risk of injury. Leveraging a novel violence reporting process embedded in the electronic patient care record, we reviewed violence reports filed over a thirteen-month period since its inception in February 2021 to assess the effectiveness of hazard flagging as a potential risk mitigation strategy. Upon reviewing a report, paramedic supervisors can generate a hazard flag if recurrent violent behavior from the patient is anticipated. In all, 502 violence reports were filed, for which paramedic supervisors generated hazard flags in 20% of cases (n = 99). In general, cases were not flagged either because the incident occurred at a location not amenable to flagging or because the supervisors felt that a hazard flag was not warranted based on the details in the report. Hazard flagging was associated with an increased risk of violence during subsequent paramedic attendance (Odds Ratio [OR] 6.21, p < 0.001). Nevertheless, the process appears to reliably identify persons who may be violent towards paramedics.





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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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