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Workplace Violence Against Healthcare Workers: A Growing Concern

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

Patient attacking Nurse

Workplace violence is a serious issue that affects many industries, including healthcare. Healthcare workers, especially nurses, are at a higher risk of experiencing workplace violence than workers in other industries. In this article, we will explore workplace violence against healthcare workers, its effects, and measures that can be taken to prevent it.

Who is at the highest risk of workplace violence in healthcare?

Healthcare workers who work in emergency departments, psychiatric units, and geriatric units are at the highest risk of workplace violence. Patients with mental health issues, dementia, or a history of drug abuse are more likely to exhibit violent behavior toward healthcare workers.

What are the 4 most frequent areas for workplace violence in healthcare?

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the four most frequent areas for workplace violence in healthcare are:

1. Emergency departments

2. Psychiatric units

3. Geriatric units

4. Home healthcare

What are 5 examples of workplace violence?

Workplace violence can take many forms, including:

1. Verbal abuse

2. Physical assault

3. Sexual harassment

4. Threats

5. Intimidation

What is NIOSH workplace violence?

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines workplace violence as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.

How does workplace violence affect nurses?

Workplace violence can have both physical and emotional effects on nurses. Physical effects may include injuries such as bruises, cuts, and broken bones, while emotional effects may include anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Workplace violence can also lead to decreased job satisfaction, burnout, and a higher turnover rate among nurses.

What is horizontal violence in nursing?

Horizontal violence, also known as lateral violence, is a form of workplace violence that occurs between colleagues within the same profession. In the nursing profession, horizontal violence can involve behaviors such as bullying, intimidation, and sabotage directed toward other nurses.

Why is there lateral violence in nursing?

There are several factors that contribute to horizontal violence in nursing. One factor is the hierarchical structure of the nursing profession, where more experienced nurses may feel threatened by newer nurses and may engage in behaviors to maintain their power and authority. Another factor is the high-stress nature of the nursing profession, which can lead to emotional exhaustion and burnout. This can cause some nurses to lash out at their colleagues as a coping mechanism. Additionally, a lack of support from management and a culture of silence around workplace violence can contribute to the prevalence of horizontal violence in nursing.

Preventing Workplace Violence in Healthcare:

Preventing workplace violence in healthcare is essential to ensure the safety and well-being of healthcare workers and to provide high-quality care to patients. Here are some measures that healthcare organizations can take to prevent workplace violence:

1. Develop a workplace violence prevention program: Healthcare organizations should develop a comprehensive workplace violence prevention program that includes policies and procedures for preventing, reporting, and responding to workplace violence incidents.

2. Provide education and training: Healthcare organizations should provide education and training to their employees on how to prevent and respond to workplace violence incidents. This should include training on de-escalation techniques, self-defense, and how to report incidents of workplace violence.

3. Improve communication: Healthcare organizations should encourage open communication between healthcare workers and their colleagues, as well as with management. This can help to identify potential risks for workplace violence and develop strategies to prevent it.

4. Implement security measures: Healthcare organizations should implement security measures such as access control systems, security cameras, and panic alarms to help prevent workplace violence incidents.

5. Provide support for healthcare workers: Healthcare organizations should provide support and resources for healthcare workers who have experienced workplace violence. This can include counseling services, employee assistance programs, and time off to recover from physical and emotional injuries.

Workplace violence against healthcare workers is a growing concern that requires attention from healthcare organizations and policymakers. Healthcare workers, especially nurses, are at a higher risk of experiencing workplace violence than workers in other industries. Preventing workplace violence in healthcare is essential to ensure the safety and well-being of healthcare workers and to provide high-quality care to patients. By implementing measures such as developing a workplace violence prevention program, providing education and training, improving communication, implementing security measures, and providing support for healthcare workers, healthcare organizations can help prevent workplace violence and create a safe and supportive work environment for their employees.

If you are interested in learning more about workplace violence prevention in healthcare, you may want to check out Survival Response LLC's Hospital Safety page, which provides resources and training programs for healthcare organizations. Additionally, their blog contains informative articles such as Healthcare's Newest Threat: Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers, The Only Guide to Workplace Violence You'll Ever Need, and Ultimate Guide to Barricading a Door.

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