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ED Nurses Still Wear a Bullseye for Workplace Abuse

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, November 14, 2011

What is more troubling, however, is that 66% of nurses did not file a formal report when they were physically assaulted, and 86% did not file a formal report when they were verbally abused. 

That means the perpetrator went unpunished. Most nurses did not even notify security personnel, their immediate supervisors, or physicians. I guess the good news is that most nurses didn't just keep the abuse to themselves—they told someone. Only 8% of nurses who were physically assaulted and 17% of nurses who were verbally abused did not tell anyone.

"The people who didn't report it said it was too cumbersome and too time-consuming," Papa says. "Organizations have to look at their reporting mechanisms and see what they can do to streamline it. Can they partner with security in their organization to have that help?"

No matter how time-consuming or burdensome, nurses have to take a greater responsibility to formally report violence, if not for themselves then for their colleagues, who are also potential victims. Also, even thorough and widely drawn surveys like the ENA's are essentially anecdotal. Tackling this issue will require hard data, and nurses are hurting the effort when they don't report the violence.

"We are working hard to make this happen because these zero tolerance policies require nurses and other healthcare workers to report the violence and that is not happening consistently," Papa says. "If the nurses aren't reporting it then we can't trend it. It becomes anecdotal data. But if they are reporting it in realtime we will have some real numbers."

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3 comments on "ED Nurses Still Wear a Bullseye for Workplace Abuse"


katsclark (11/16/2011 at 2:40 PM)
especially physician assaults, that is offensive!!! Because it is more tragic when a physician gets hit???? I have been assaulted more times than I can remember and I find it just as tragic, as when ANY other coworkers get assaulted.

Lauren Price (11/15/2011 at 5:23 PM)
If senior leadership doesn't respond to assaults on nurses, how is the plan to just "change it" going to be effective? Nurses don't report because those who do are usually labeled troublemakers. In this new era of the patient always being right and satisfaction-based reimbursement, filing a charge isn't viewed as the appropriate response. Until that attitude changes, we are stuck.

DVB (11/14/2011 at 2:06 PM)
And the third lesson is taking steps to prevent it from happening to nurses in the first place.