Assaults On Healthcare Workers Rising At Alarming Rates
In our first story we did about attacks on healthcare workers, we originally thought they would come from assailants in parking lots. Not so! They come from patients inside the facility where they work.
A few months ago, in Belfast, Ireland a voluntary inpatient in the psychiatric ward at Lagon Valley hospital attacked four victims all on one day. As the story goes, the patient allegedly punched his first nurse victim to the ground and then continued to attack her as she lay on the ground. A second nurse came along and eventually restrained him but then the second nurse got attacked. A third nurse hid herself in the nurse’s station, but the perpetrator got the door open and assaulted that nurse. Then a male patient intervened and restrained him in a headlock. That’s when our perpetrator bit him so hard he started to bleed. The judge overseeing the case noted that the perp had amassed 45 previous convictions and so was not amenable to bail.
At the Vancouver General Hospital recently, a nurse was trying to help a patient who was attempting to rip a tube out of his chest. As she used one hand to replace the tube, she used the other hand to prevent the struggling patient from sliding out of bed. That’s when the nurse was attacked and was completely defenseless. She was hit with a brutal punch that dislocated her jaw. That is just one story among many in British Columbia where assaults on nurses and healthcare workers has reached crisis levels at several hospitals. According to the British Columbia Nurses Union, attacks on healthcare workers have increased 70% over the last 10 years.
This story from the Huffington Post claims that acts of violence against healthcare workers are being committed with increasing frequency in hospitals and healthcare facilities in the United States. These attacks cause injury and damage morale and a sense of safety resulting in a high turnover of healthcare workers when the industry can least afford it.
According to a 2014 survey published in the Journal of Emergency Nursing three of four nurses reported experiencing violence on the job, either verbal or physical within the past year and three of ten reported physical abuse by patients. A high proportion of the incidents involved patients under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In an American Nurses Association (ANA) survey of registered nurses, one-third identified “on the job assault” as one of their top three workplace safety concerns, and 21 percent reported they were at a “significant level of risk” for violence at work.
It is obvious to us that there are no easy answers for this problem. But the ANA recommends implementing better safety and professional standards as the key to curbing workplace violence.
We would urge nurses to consider carrying a loud 120 dB personal panic alarm such as this one shown above that uses a clip that can attach it to a uniform. It can be used in emergencies to call for assistance.
What are your thoughts or experiences with assaults on nurses or other healthcare workers? Chime in with your thoughts.