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Epidemic of Health Care Workplace Violence

February 10, 2020
Health Care Workplace Violence

Sources are reporting that workplace violence in health care settings is on the rise and has become an epidemic in clinicals and hospitals around the world. Those affected include staff directly involved with patient car, such as nurses, paramedics, and emergency room staff members. Most of the violence is committed by patients and visitors. Some people become violent because of physical and mental challenges; others are under stress from the high cost of the treatment and crushing debt, on top of the fears created by the sickness or injuries they face.

Studies on the Subject

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that eight to 38 percent of health care workers experience physical violence at some point throughout their careers. Even more are exposed to verbal aggression.
  • The National Crime Victimization Survey documents health care workers having a 20 percent higher chance of being exposed to workplace violence than other employees.
  • An American College of Emergency Physicians poll showed that approximately 47 percent of emergency physicians were assaulted while working.
  • The American Nurses Association (ANA) found that one in four nurses are assaulted at work on any given day. In addition to physical assaults and harassment, this includes verbal abuse and homicide.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that 75 percent of reported workplace violence happens in healthcare and social service industries each year.

Silent No More Foundation published a story about a newly registered nurse from Maryland who was seriously hurt when a dementia patient hit her on the top of her head. She was trying to help the patient with his IV when he attacked her. Although she was shocked, she was able to move away before he hit her a second time.

The nurse considered herself lucky and used the experience to raise awareness about the issue. She founded the Silent No More Foundation, an organization dedicated to lobbying state officials to develop more protection laws for health care workers.

The Culture Needs to Change

This nurse and advocate said that although her husband is a corrections officer, it is more likely that she will be assaulted at work than him. He has a bullet-proof vest, pepper spray, and colleagues that can back him up, providing him with the tools to defend himself. Though health care workers are exposed to dangers from patients and family members, they do not have the resources to protect themselves.

She went on to explain that health care organizations need to understand that violence should not be a part of the job for these employees and called for a severe culture change. Some health care workers who experience violence get blamed by their employers; others are disciplined or even fired. Identifying patients who show signs of aggression or agitations and classifying them as high risk could prevent acts of violence.

Cherry Hill Work Injury Lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP Help Injured Health Care Workers

Health care workers should be protected on the job, and the Cherry Hill work injury lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP are dedicated to your welfare. For a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 856-761-3773. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Camden, Cinnaminson, Delran, Maple Shade, and Pennsauken.

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