The Spike on Violence Against Nurses by Patients During the Past Decade

The Atlantic recently published an article regarding the dangerous occurrence of violence being perpetrated by patients on practicing nurses. Statistics show that roughly one in four of these nurses were attacked physically in the workplace during the past year. These nurses are often kicked, scratched, and grabbed, and in some rare cases, they are even killed. It is shocking to note that there are almost as many injuries from violence in the health care industry compared to all other industries combined.

Currently, there are no federal rules that mandate hospitals to protect nurses from acts of violence in their workplace, although some states have passed their local laws. Such state-specific protective measures include mandates for hospitals to develop prevention programs for these occurrences. So far, California has passed the toughest of such guidelines, obligating employers to create customized prevention plans against violence for their health care workers. The problem has become so severe that the Department of Labor in the US now consider the establishment of national safety standards for the workplace in hospitals so that these abuses can be prevented.

Mental patients and drug abuse patients are those who most prone to hurt their nurses. The past decade has registered an 110% spike in incidents of such violence. One cause is the slashing of hospital budgets, making more people turn to public hospitals because of the lack of insurance. Slashed budgets also mean fewer services for mental health patients, security staff, and trained nurses. All these increase the probability of violence as people with a mental health condition enter public hospitals’ emergency rooms with less security and trained nursing staff.

One exacerbating condition is the way hospitals and superiors downplay the severity and significance of such violent attacks. Still, hospitals are now taking more preventive measures. The application of such precautionary measures needs only to be implemented nationwide. Otherwise, the country may soon face a critical shortage of nurses.

For the full article, please click on this link from the Atlantic.

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