ED Shooting Shows Why Confronting Hospital Violence Must Be A Priority

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , March 1, 2010

A report from the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice also found "considerable evidence that workers in the healthcare sector are at greater risk of violence than workers in any other sector." The report cites Bureau of Labor Statistics data which show that 48% of all non-fatal injuries from occupational assaults and violent acts occurred in healthcare and social services settings. BLS data also show that 9.3 in 10,000 employees in the health services sector suffer injuries that require time off from work, compared with two in every 10,000 workers overall in the private sector.

There are cost big factors at work here too. How much are hospitals paying in workers' compensation claims, or litigation for unsafe work environments, or for missed work, or for overtime or hiring temps to cover those missed shifts? How will a shooting in your emergency department affect recruiting and retention?

These are grave questions that deserve immediate attention. First and foremost, however, this is a human resources issue. This is about providing dedicated healing professionals with a safe working environment. They have enough stress in their work already. They shouldn't have to worry about getting shot, or stabbed, or kicked, or slapped, or scratched, or punched, or spit upon, or pushed, or cursed at, or intimidated. That sort of abusive conduct is not tolerated almost anywhere else. Why are hospitals the exception?

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John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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