More than half of emergency room nurses have been assaulted, study finds
Researchers found that not only did more than 50 percent of respondents say that they had been victims of physical violence at work, one in four nurses reported that they had experienced such incidents -- including being spit on, hit, kicked or pushed -- more than 20 times in the past three years. The Emergency Nurses Association surveyed more than 3,400 emergency nurses for the study.
Approximately 67 percent of nurses rated their perception of safety in the emergency department at five or lower on a 10-point scale, and one in three respondents said they had considered leaving their job altogether because of the violence. According to the study, reports of violence were lowest among nurses in pediatric emergency departments and highest among nurses who worked night shifts and on weekends. Male emergency nurses were more likely than their female colleagues to indicate having experienced workplace violence.
The risk of workplace violence, researchers said, was lower for nurses who worked in facilities that had policies for reporting violence, facility responses to incidents, and hospital and emergency department administrations who were committed to eliminating workplace violence against emergency nurses.
The report includes several recommendations to reduce emergency department violence and address the barriers to reporting incidents. Researchers said facilities should:
- Ensure that emergency department staff know that senior administration is aware of the issues and support efforts to prevent and mitigate violence.
- Encourage nurse executives to take steps to make the department safe.
- Establish a culture of acceptance for reporting violent incidents.
- Develop clear and consistent procedures for reporting violent incidents.
- Provide access to medical care and follow up counseling as needed for emergency department staff who are victims of workplace violence.
- Appoint an interdisciplinary task force to identify vulnerabilities in the emergency department and develop a plan for preventing, mitigating, responding to and reporting violence.
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August 27, 2009
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