Every day, health care workers encounter a number of workplace hazards. The list may include injuries from lifting and transporting patients, exposure to infections, hazardous chemicals and medical drugs, and one danger that should never be overlooked: workplace violence.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in the health care and social service industries are five times more likely to suffer an injury attributed to workplace violence than all other workers. In addition, the agency declared that health care workers comprised 73% of all non-fatal workplace injuries attributed to violence in 2018.
Psychiatric and substance abuse hospital workers face greatest threat
Nurses, doctors and other health care workers frequently endure threats and injuries attributed to physical violence. The physical attacks by patients, family members and even co-workers may include beatings, stabbings and even gun violence. It seems that nearly anything can trigger outbursts whether during a nurse’s or doctor’s rounds, mealtime, visiting hours or the transportation of patients.
By far, workers at psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals accounted for the most non-fatal intentional injuries in 2018, recording 124.9 injuries per 10,000 full-time workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nursing and residential care facilities (21.1), hospitals (12.8) and social assistance (12.4) followed.
Where attacks occur
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, violent attacks at health care facilities most frequently occur in:
- Psychiatric wards
- Emergency room settings
- Waiting rooms
- Geriatric units
In health care settings, workers must remain aware and alert to any workplace hazard., including includes workplace violence.
Crucial to protect health care workers
Health care facilities have long tried their best to protect patients. They also must do their best to protect the people who work there. Workplace violence in health care settings is no secret. Unruly patients, patients with cognitive disorders, angry family members and disgruntled employees all may serve as perpetrators in violent attacks in these facilities.