Hospital workers victims of patient violence

A new study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing suggests that patient violence against hospital workers is more common than most people realize.

Researchers from the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit analyzed electronic reports of patient violence against hospital employees within one Midwestern hospital system. The system comprised seven hospitals—two in the suburbs and five in cities—and 15,000 employees. All incidents of patient violence must be recorded in the computer reporting system.

In one year, 214 violent patient situations were reported, 90 percent of which were physical violence toward hospital employees. Forty percent of the incidents were against nurses, 16 percent against security staff and 14 percent against nursing assistants. The incidents occurred at all seven hospitals.

"Compared with workers in other industries, hospital workers have high rates of non-fatal workplace assault injuries,” the researchers noted.

The assault reports were categorized into three sectors. The first involved assaults related to cognitive impairment, which occurred 40 percent of the time and included dementia, intoxication, and patients demanding to leave the hospital. The second category reflected incidents related to delivering care, such as sticking patients with needles, physically moving patients, close proximity, or other tasks that caused the patient discomfort.  The third category included situational events, such as admissions and discharges that involved restraints, redirecting patients to their beds or rooms and dealing with violent patients.

The study was done to better understand the causes and circumstances of patient violence and to train hospital staff to better deal with or prevent these situations.

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