Nurses should consider asking for police assistance if they are treating patients with long-term care needs who have been violent in the past, according to a new report.
The NHS Security Management Service (NHS SMS) has produced a nine-point plan for nurses to help them identify potentially violent patients.
The guidance urges nurses to engage with family members as well as consulting patient records to discover if people have violent tendencies.
It also advises nurses on how they should proceed once they have established a patient may be violent, and suggests that some treatments should only be administered in a secure environment.
The NHS SMS also said that NHS trusts should consider implementing behaviour agreements with patients who have a history of violence.
These agreements can be used to ensure patients are aware that they can face criminal charges if they abuse nursing staff who are caring for them.
Christine Beasley, chief nursing officer at the Department of Health, said: "As withdrawing treatment is not an option with patients needing long-term care, it is important nurses know how to prevent and manage potentially violent patients.
"Nurses are at the frontline of today's NHS. The reasons a patient may turn violent need to be identified at the earliest opportunity.
"As nurses are likely to be the first point of contact for many of these patients, it is appropriate for them to assess these risks."