Survey sheds light on violence against ER nurses
More than half of emergency room nurses said they’ve been verbally abused by patients, and one in 10 said they’ve experienced physical violence, according to a survey of 7,169 nurses conducted by the Emergency Nurses Association.
Many of the nurses who said they were physically abused by patients reported being grabbed and pulled (48 percent), hit by someone else (41 percent) or spit on (36 percent). Some of those surveyed also reported being bitten, stabbed or sexually assaulted.
The most common forms of verbal abuse were swearing or yelling, according to the report.
In most cases, nurses did not file a formal complaint; in half the cases of physical violence, no action was taken against the perpetrator.
“We need hospitals and hospital administrators to take steps now to increase the safety of their emergency departments so that patients can receive the care they need,” says AnnMarie Papa, president of the nurses association. “Zero-tolerance policies are showing great promise for reducing the incidence of violence, and we would like to see more hospitals implement these policies in order to safeguard patients’ safety and health, as well as that of the people who care for them.”
More than half of the abusers were under the influence of alcohol, and about 45 percent were psychiatric patients, according to the survey. Eight out of 10 attacks occurred in a patient’s room.
The online survey was based on information collected from May 2009 to January 2011.