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Class Progress
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Chapter Listing

Violence Against Nurses: The New Epidemic - DEMO


What is Workplace Violence?

  • A Utah man punched a nurse after she tried to prevent him from leaving a hospital
  • A patient strangled a nurse with her stethoscope until she lost consciousness
  • A Pennsylvania nurse was raped by a patient
  • Two nurses were held hostage and beaten by a patient
  • A nurse was raped at a hospital in suburban Chicago
  • A Massachusetts nurse was repeatedly stabbed while assessing a patient
  • A nurse in Salt Lake City was manhandled and led off in handcuffs by a police detective after she declined to let the officer draw blood from an unconscious patient

While it might seem like the headlines above are isolated incidents, violence against nurses is growing at an epidemic rate across the nation. Nurses are often the easiest target within the healthcare setting for violence, as they are the discipline that has the most direct contact with the patient and their families. In hospitals, nurses work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, placing them with patients when they are at their lowest point. Today, with the help of lawmakers and healthcare administrators, nurses will need to be empowered to stand up to violence at the workplace, so they can, once again, feel safe taking care of those who truly need their help.

Defining Workplace Violence

Workplace violence, however it manifests itself, is a major concern today. It is defined as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site” . Workplace violence does not discriminate, as it can be violence against visitors, employees, clients and customers.

Violence in healthcare can take several different shapes, as it can be verbal, physical, or emotional. It can stem from co-workers bullying each other, a distraught family member, an active shooter, gang violence, and physical attacks by patients. Whatever the cause and origin of the violent act, healthcare facilities must be prepared to respond to each act, while taking preventative measures to end this epidemic of violence.

Workplace Violence Prevalence in the United States

Within the United States, the healthcare sector makes up just 9 percent of the workforce, and even though it is only a small percentage of the workforce, it has nearly as many violent acts than all the other industries combined. In the United States, homicide is currently the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries, with 4,679 fatal workplace deaths, 403 which are workplace homicides.

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