ED nurses are too commonly exposed to workplace violence, according to findings of a study involving those who reported experiencing such violence by patients or visitors in their hospital system. The survey, which was completed by 762 participants, found that 76.0% experienced some form of workplace violence, including verbal and/or physical abuse by patients or visitors. Many reported that patients and visitors victimized ED nurses by shouting or yelling at them, swearing or cursing at them, grabbing them, and scratching or kicking them.

Workplace Violence Among ED Nurses

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Click here for a snapshot of workplace violence among ED nurses.

The study team also found that 12.1% of emergency nurses experienced a significantly greater number of incidents. Nearly one-quarter of nurses noted that they experienced more than 50 verbal patient/visitor violent incidents over their careers, and another 7.3% reported experiencing physical incidents. Perpetrators were primarily white male patients, aged 26 to 35, who were confused or influenced by alcohol or drugs. The authors added that annual workplace violence charges for the 2.1% of nurses reporting injuries were $94,156, representing $78,924 for treatment and $15,232 for indemnity.

The research team recommended that hospitals enhance programs for training and incident reporting, particularly for nurses at higher risk of exposure, which includes those who care for patients:

♦ With dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

♦ With drug-seeking behavior.

♦ Who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Source: Journal of Emergency Nursing, May 2014.