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2/3 of paramedics report verbal, physical, or sexual abuse on the job

New research from St, Michael's Hospital in Toronto suggests that more than two-thirds of paramedics have experienced verbal, physical or sexual abuse on the job.

"EMS providers can experience violence in the workplace as they perform their jobs in unpredictable environments and near people in crisis," said Blair Bigham, the lead investigator.

"Anecdotal reports and workplace safety records have highlighted cases of verbal, physical and sexual abuse, yet until now, there has been little scientific research. More research is needed to understand the impact of this workplace violence."

The study found:
  • Verbal abuse was reported by 67.4 per cent of EMS workers surveyed. 
  • Intimidation was reported by 41.5 per cent. 
  • Physical abuse was reported by 26.1 per cent. 
  • Sexual harassment was reported by 13.6 per cent. 
  • Sexual assault was reported by 2.7 per cent.
Patients, or patient family and friends were the most common perpetrator.

The study was based on a survey of 1,381 paramedics in Ontario and Nova Scotia.  Most (70%) were male.  The median paramedic was 34 and had 10 years experience in EMS.


  1. The problem in Niagara has to be even much more intense as the Niagara Health System has closed down two of the ERs, which has overwhelmed the rest of the system and made offload delays jump 68%. When the NEMS reported this dangerous situation, they were shut up as the NHS and region formed a committee with them and decided future reports would be joint.

    The paramedics should be warned as I believe their job is going to get even more difficult as I have attended LHIN meetings and they are working on a program that they are hoping will reduce the backlogs at ERs. Their strategy is for the paramedics to triage 911 calls and make a determination whether or not the person making the call needs to go to the ER or not. Can you imagine the stress on the paramedics when they take on this difficult task.

    If they make the wrong call and someone dies, guess who will be blamed?

    Pat Scholfield


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