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Open Access Study protocol

Impact of a program to prevent incivility towards and assault of healthcare staff in an ophtalmological emergency unit: study protocol for the PREVURGO On/Off trial

Sandrine Touzet12*, Pierre-Loïc Cornut3, Jean-Baptiste Fassier45, Marie-Annick Le Pogam6, Carole Burillon3 and Antoine Duclos12

Author Affiliations

1 Hospices Civils de Lyon, Pôle Information Médicale Évaluation Recherche, Lyon F-69003, France

2 Université de Lyon, EA Santé-Individu-Société 4128, Lyon F-69002, France

3 Hospices Civils de Lyon, Hôpital Edouard Herriot, service d’ophtalmologie, Lyon F-69003, France

4 Hospices civils de Lyon, Service de médecine et santé au travail, Lyon F-69003, France

5 Université de Lyon, UMR T 9405, Lyon F-69373, France

6 Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University Hospital of Lausanne, Lausanne CH-1010, Switzerland

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:221  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-221

Published: 19 May 2014



The emergency department has been identified as an area within the health care sector with the highest reports of violence. The best way to control violence is to prevent it before it becomes an issue. Ideally, to prevent violent episodes we should eliminate all triggers of frustration and violence. Our study aims to assess the impact of a quality improvement multi-faceted program aiming at preventing incivility and violence against healthcare professionals working at the ophthalmological emergency department of a teaching hospital.


This study is a single-center prospective, controlled time-series study with an alternate-month design. The prevention program is based on the successive implementation of five complementary interventions: a) an organizational approach with a standardized triage algorithm and patient waiting number screen, b) an environmental approach with clear signage of the premises, c) an educational approach with informational videos for patients and accompanying persons in waiting rooms, d) a human approach with a mediator in waiting rooms and e) a security approach with surveillance cameras linked to the hospital security. The primary outcome is the rate of incivility or violence by patients, or those accompanying them against healthcare staff. All patients admitted to the ophthalmological emergency department, and those accompanying them, will be enrolled. In all, 45,260 patients will be included in over a 24-month period. The unit analysis will be the patient admitted to the emergency department. Data analysis will be blinded to allocation, but due to the nature of the intervention, physicians and patients will not be blinded.


The strengths of this study include the active solicitation of event reporting, that this is a prospective study and that the study enables assessment of each of the interventions that make up the program. The challenge lies in identifying effective interventions, adapting them to the context of care in an emergency department, and thoroughly assessing their efficacy with a high level of proof.

The study has been registered as a cRCT at (identifier: NCT02015884).

Emergency unit; Ophthalmology; Workplace violence; Healthcare workers; Violence; Assault; Alternating time series design