Hospitals face extremely high rates of workplace violence

Workplace violence in hospitals is increasing dramatically, with ER nurses often the primary victims.

Nursing and other healthcare-related jobs are not typically what most people associate with high rates of workplace violence. However, as Politico reports, healthcare settings are some of the most dangerous places for workplace violence, with nurses bearing the brunt of that violence. Even worse is the fact that workplace violence rates in healthcare have grown rapidly in recent years, thanks to a confluence of different factors ranging from high medical costs to the opioid epidemic.

How violent are healthcare jobs?

A number of different statistics reveals just how dangerous it can be to work in the healthcare industry, especially for nurses in the emergency room. A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example, found that the rate of attacks on registered nurses increased by more than 100 percent between 2008 and 2016.

Furthermore, a 2016 GAO report found that nonfatal violence against healthcare workers was not only on the rise but was already five times higher than for other workers. A study from 2015 also found that 57 percent of ER nurses had experienced some form of workplace violence within the past week.

Why are hospitals becoming more violent?

There are a lot of reasons for the alarming increase in workplace violence in healthcare facilities. One culprit is the opioid epidemic. Patients who are addicted to opioids are more likely to become agitated if they are denied pills or after they regain consciousness in an ER after an overdose. The crackdown on opioid prescriptions has only made this problem worse.

The high cost of co-pays and deductibles is likely another reason. With visits to the hospital costing so much, patients are more likely to get agitated and lash out at healthcare staff if they do not get the answers they expect. A lack of resources for patients who may be suffering from mental health problems is also another likely cause.

Some states are trying to tackle the problem. As Becker's Hospital Review notes, California adopted workplace violence prevention measures targeting hospitals specifically. The rules, which went into effect in 2017, require hospitals to develop a workplace violence prevention plan and to track incidents of workplace violence. The rules are now the inspiration for proposed federal legislation. Better statistics detailing the scope of workplace violence in hospitals will be a key step in ultimately tackling the problem.

Workplace injuries

Whether in healthcare or any other industry, those who are hurt at work often find themselves in a difficult situation. Their injuries may prevent them from returning to work either temporarily or indefinitely, which can lead to severe financial stress. That is why anybody injured on the job needs to talk to a workers' compensation attorney for help today. An experienced attorney can assist clients with pursuing the compensation they may be entitled to and ensure that their rights are protected.