by Kevin Pho, MD
"Last fall, a surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital was shot by the distraught son of a patient for whom he was caring. The man later killed his mother, then himself. A week earlier, a patient in a Long Island, N.Y., hospital beat his nurse with a leg from a broken chair, causing serious injuries. The following month, a psychiatric technician at a Napa, Calif., state hospital was fatally attacked on the job.
This snapshot of violence against health care workers reflects a disturbing trend. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis published last year, almost 60% of assaults in the workplace occurred in a health care setting. Nearly three-quarters of these assaults were by patients or residents of a health facility."
No longer havens
"Health care settings have been traditionally thought of as “safe havens,” open to anyone as a place to be protected and cared for. This is a trend worth watching. The Joint Commission, a national accrediting agency, soberly noted last year that “health care institutions today are confronting steadily increasing rates of crime, including violent crimes such as assault, rape and homicide.”Violence is most common in psychiatric facilities and emergency departments, but can also be seen in waiting rooms, long-term care centers and critical care units."
"Nurses are the most frequent targets. According to a 2010 survey from the Emergency Nurses Association, more than half of ER nurses were victims of physical violence and verbal abuse, including being spit on, shoved, or kicked; one in four reported being assaulted more than 20 times over the past three years. The survey noted that the violence seemed to be increasing at the same time the number of alcohol-, drug- and psychiatric-related patients was rising. . . " Read More