About 80 percent of emergency physicians say violence in the emergency department harmed patient care, and of those, more than half say patients have been physically harmed.

According to a poll presented at the American College of Emergency Physicians’ annual meeting, nearly seven in 10 physicians say emergency department violence has increased in the past five years. Of those assaulted, 27 percent say they were assaulted more than once, 27 percent were injured, and almost a third say they have been punched, kicked or spit upon.

Forty-nine percent of respondents say hospitals can do more by adding security officers, cameras, security for parking lots, metal detectors and increasing visitor screening inside hospitals, especially in the emergency department.

Seventy percent of physicians who have been assaulted on the job say their hospital administration or security staff did respond to the incident, but only three percent say the hospital actually pressed charges.

According to Dr. Vidor Friedman, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP, 96 percent of female emergency physicians reported that a patient or visitor made inappropriate comments or unwanted advances toward them, and 80 percent of male emergency physicians reported the same.