Digital tool to address violence in emergency departments

21 Jan 2021

UQ School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work PhD student’s work to reduce occupational violence in emergency departments has been boosted by a $150,000 Queensland Advancing Clinical Research Fellowship.

CJ Cabilan is a Clinical Research Officer at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) and aims to develop a tool for hospital staff to identify and prepare for potentially violent patients before they are triaged.

Research shows hospital staff face violence in the workplace every day, with 98 per cent of frontline emergency department staff reporting exposure to verbal or physical abuse.

“When staff are frequently exposed to confronting situations, it can lead to significant emotional and physical harm for the staff member, other patients and other hospital staff,” Ms Cabilan said

“My research involves working with emergency department staff from all over Australia to develop, then test a simple method to detect patients who are likely to be violent.

“By checking a patient’s history of aggression, some specific behaviours and the circumstances around their presentation, we are able to rate the patient as a low, moderate or high risk of violence, which then triggers a set of appropriate interventions.”

Brisbane’s PA Hospital emergency department has proven to be an ideal test site due to its ‘paperless’ patient management and records system.

“Being a digital hospital means we can implement an automated alert system for moderate and high-risk patients, allowing us to be prepared and ultimately keep staff safe,” Ms Cabilan said.

“This is the first fellowship to be awarded in emergency nursing and will help ensure this valuable work can continue.”

Clinical Research Fellowships are intended to support Queensland Health clinician researchers undertake research linked to their practice to improve health outcomes for Queenslanders.

The program recognises that clinician researchers (including doctors, nurses, dentists, allied health practitioners and clinical scientists) are uniquely placed to identify clinical issues that can benefit from further research, lead patient-focussed research discoveries and facilitate improved patient care through research translation.

Visit the Queensland Health website for more information.

Media: C.J. Cabilan; HaBS Media,