Rising Violence in Hospitals: What Nurses Need to Know

Rising Violence in Hospitals
Cross Country Nurses
September 26, 2019 04:05 AM (GMT-05:00)
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Rising Violence in Hospitals: What Nurses Need to Know

Have you ever experienced violence in healthcare settings in which you’ve been employed? A number of healthcare professional organizations have recently cited statistics indicating that you probably have, and that this is a much bigger issue than just violence against ER nurses. For many years, nurses have suffered silently in a sort of “frog in boiling water” scenario that has left many nurses believing that violence against healthcare workers is just part of the job. In fact, while 70% of emergency physicians surveyed by the American College of Emergency Physicians said they believed workplace violence is on the rise, and three-quarters of all annual workplace assaults occur in healthcare settings, just 30% of nurses have reported violent incidents. As these incidents have continued to increase in both number and severity, however, healthcare workers, and specifically nurses, are demanding action to prevent a healthcare violence epidemic.

Violence Against Healthcare Workers Legislation on the Horizon

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), healthcare workers were four times as likely to experience workplace violence requiring days off than private industry workers between 2002 and 2013. Studies like this as well as years of anecdotal evidence helped compel congress to write the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act in June of 2019, which will likely be voted into law soon. The legislation was created to both protect healthcare workers and also hold employers responsible by requiring they develop a healthcare workplace violence prevention program.

The main objectives of the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act are as follows:
  • Require employers to develop comprehensive workplace-specific plans to prevent violence based on OSHA guidelines.
  • Protect workers in hospitals, inpatient, residential and non-residential facilities, social service, psychiatric and behavioral health settings as well as community care and field work settings.
  • Implement a timeline to ensure protection for healthcare workers as quickly as possible.
  • Require preventions measures including prevention measures such as physical changes to the environment, staffing for patient care and security, employee involvement in all steps of the plan, hands on training, record keeping requirements including a violent incident log, and protections for employees to report workplace violence to their employers and law enforcement.

A healthcare workplace violence policy is the first step to a safer working environment for all healthcare workers. As more and more facilities implement their own healthcare workplace violence prevention programs, a decrease in these types of incidents, as well as the related burnout many nurses experience, will hopefully follow.

Looking for an assignment at a facility that makes your safety is a priority? Search our current travel nurse opportunities.

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