Managing violent patients is a dilemma that every clinician faces. This article reviews the current literature and assesses the evidence on the management of violent patients in the clinical setting. Risk factors (dispositional, historical, contextual and clinical) and early warning signs of violence will be outlined. Understanding these issues will facilitate the short-term prediction and prevention of violence in clinical settings. Interventions have been categorized for use according to the urgency of the situation. This degree of urgency has been designated as either potential, imminent or emergent violence. Special considerations that may alter the management of violence will be delineated. Specifically, we will highlight issues related to gender, age and mental retardation. Aspects of professional training in regards to the management of the violent patient will be underscored as well. Finally, the review of the literature has led to a decision tree that can inform the reader in the evidence-based management of the violent patient. This decision tree is offered to the busy practitioner as a practical clinical tool for using evidence based practices in managing violent patients.
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