Deakin University

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Vital signs as predictors for aggression in hospital patients (VAPA)

journal contribution
posted on 2017-09-01, 00:00 authored by Julie ConsidineJulie Considine, Debra Berry, R Johnson, Natisha SandsNatisha Sands
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To examine and describe the relationship between physiological status and violent and aggressive behaviours in hospital patients. BACKGROUND: The majority of adverse events are preceded by physiological abnormalities; whether physiological deterioration is a predictor of violent or aggressive behaviours remains unknown. DESIGN: prospective case control study. METHODS: prospective audit of 999 patients from two major health services in Melbourne, Australia. There were 333 cases who required an emergency response for aggressive or violent behaviour (Code Grey) in the emergency department, medical or surgical units, or inpatient mental health unit between January and June 2015. Two control patients who did not have a Code Grey were randomly selected from the same unit and same day that the Code Grey occurred for the case patient. RESULTS: Patient locations were 54.4% medical or surgical units, 23.7% emergency department and 21.9% mental health units. Code Grey patients had less documentation of physiological assessment and were more likely to have respiratory rate, heart rate and conscious state abnormalities in the 12 hours preceding Code Grey. After adjusting for confounders, the risk of Code Grey was highest for patients with confusion. CONCLUSION: Patients experiencing behavioural disturbance had lower standards of patient assessment, greater incidence of physiological abnormalities and more inpatient deaths. Early recognition of, and response to, patient and physiological predictors of Code Grey should be a strategy to prevent behavioural escalation to the point of Code Grey. RELEVANCE TO PRACTICE: Strategies are needed to improve physiological assessment of patients with behavioural disturbance while ensuring staff safety. There are patient and physiological factors associated with increased risk of Code Grey that may be used to prevent behavioural escalation to the point of an emergency response.



Journal of clinical nursing






2593 - 2604




London, Eng.





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2016, John Wiley & Sons