do you report assault in the er?

Specialties Emergency


I have been a er rn for 3 years but recently got into a heated disagreement with an experienced (10 yr) rn about reporting an assault. Physical assault, an altercation between two adults, not domestic or sexual. HBO ( the experienced nurse who calls herself "simply the best") went behind my back and called the police to come see a patient in the er with injuries from an assault. I thought it was wrong, pts here for medical treatment not legal advice. She says you have to report all assaults even if there is no weapon like in this case. Who is right?

ernurse728, LPN

130 Posts

In our facility we have to report all assaults no matter what...if the police arrive and the person doesn't want to talk that is fine but we must report it.


93 Posts

Anyone who presents with an assault to an ER must be asked if they want to report the event. If they choose not to have the police called, it is their right. Just DOCUMENT the patient's refusal. Also document if they offered who committed the assault. If it was a domestic incident, ask if the person is returning to the place of the assault or if they need assistance in being relocated, then again document where they are going, with who, etc. in the discharge note. Patient safety is paramount, however, the patient has the right to whether they want to report or not. Again, if the nurse called and the police came and the patient refused to report, they are within their rights.

I have worked in a large inner-city ER trauma center for 10 years. It is difficult to get police to come and take reports on these incidences due to the high volume of cases they are handling on the streets. In smaller places, I suppose the police come right out if they are called. In our ER, the patient can be treated and long gone before the police arrive, if that is the case, they are advised that they can wait for the police or go to the precinct to place the report. Again, it is the patient's choice, even in a potentially dangerous situation. Just document the emotional/social counseling that you as an ER nurse gave the victim.

Also remember, just because someone is "seasoned" does not mean they know everything. I rely on some of the "newcomers" to give me info that I may not be current on. I then check it out and confirm it is fact-based, and whalah! I have learned something new! Don't get intimidated!


24 Posts

All assaults that come through our ER get reported to the police. Usually our registration people go ahead and do that as part of registering the patient.


73 Posts

No ifs ands or buts in our ER we have to report all assaults, if the patient then doesn't want to pursue it any further than thats fine, at least we did our part by reporting it to the police.


258 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Nursing Advanced Practice.

There are only 4 things we can call police for without patient permission....

Child abuse

Adult abuse


Gun shot wounds.

If someone comes in beat up beacause of a fight and has not been shot/stabbed then we cannot call unless pt requests.

We also cannot call on walk ins from car wrecks who are drunk. A big bummer!

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