Risk Factors

The Health and Safety at Work Regulations from 1992 state that all employers need to assess risks, identify precautions and provide training to minimise risks at work [5].

The RCP has produced a document for trainees on minimising risk and safety issues.

How do you reduce risk when assessing a disturbed patient in the ED?

The factors to consider are:

Personal privacy issues

Avoid giving out addresses or personal details of staff.

Consider whether addresses are obtainable from other sources, e.g. GMC database of registered professionals.

Personal appearance

Avoid loose clothing that could be used to harm. In addition, avoid wearing provocative or offensive items.

Personal behaviour

Maintain professional behaviour. Be positive and courteous.


Check the known risks of patients prior to assessment.

Ensure other staff are aware of your location when conducting an assessment and ensure you know how to raise the alarm should you feel threatened.

Emergency situations

In an emergency situation, leave the room if possible. Raise the alarm to alert other staff members