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Violence Against ED Nurses Remains High, But Remedies Exist

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, October 4, 2010
  • Most physical violence occurred in patients' rooms (81%). Nearly a quarter (23%) occurred in corridors, hallways, stairwells or elevators and 15% occurred at the nurses’ station. *
  • The most frequently reported activities that emergency nurses were involved in when they experienced physical violence were triaging a patient (38%), restraining or subduing a patient (34%) and performing an invasive procedure (31%). *
  • Male nurses reported higher physical violence rates than female nurses (15% versus 10%); and physical violence rates tended to decline with older nurses.
  • Physical violence rates were higher in large urban areas (13%) than in rural areas (8%). Nurses working in EDs with more beds and treatment space, and those with higher numbers of visits were more likely to experience physical and verbal abuse than nurse in lower-traffic departments.

The ENA survey doesn’t provide a vaccine for the epidemic of hospital violence. It does give us a good idea of where hospital violence occurs, who the victims are, who the perpetrators are, and some basic strategies to reduce violence. It's a good starting point. Look at the survey and see how your hospital's antiviolence policies compare. You owe it to your employees. What are you waiting for?   

* (Math majors may notice that these responses add up to more than 100%. ENA explains that for several of the survey questions respondents were allowed to select more than one response. For example, a violent incident could start in a patient’s room and spill out into the hallway as the incident progresses.)


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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