“The healthcare industry leads all other sectors in the incidence of non-fatal workplace assaults,” according to the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA). In 2013 healthcare workers reported 9,200 non-fatal workplace related to violence an amount representing more than 67% of injuries reported in all industries and professions.
The two biggest players in healthcare, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), have been sitting on the issue of violence against healthcare workers for years. Where does that leave us? Do we remain passive and suffer assaults or do we fight for our legal right to have a safe working environment?
If you have been a victim of abuse while taking care of your patient, with no one protecting you or standing up to defend you after the assault, and you are punished for rejecting the notion that assault is simply part of your job, what do you do?
We as healthcare workers dedicate our lives to taking care of, and providing treatment to, patients. We can end up putting our own safety at risk from these patients, risking assault not just from the patient but family members or even friends. This has been happening for decades. So what is the problem?
A few key factors are in play.