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Common risk factors for hospital violence

Punched, shoved, stabbed, shot, or even killed. Almost every healthcare professional has either experienced workplace violence firsthand or known a coworker who has. All employees face a serious health and safety risk from workplace violence, but healthcare professionals are particularly vulnerable. Of all non-fatal injuries from assault and violence at work, the health and social services sectors account for 48% of all injuries. A recent survey found that five out of ten nurses had experienced verbal or physical abuse in the previous year, and one in ten nurses had experienced violent violence. In addition, the third-placed issue for workplace safety was violence in the workplace.

Clearly, healthcare professionals need to be aware of the specific risks and appropriate responses to violence. It is critical to protect everyone's well-being and to maintain a safe working environment.

Health and social care workers face a significant risk of workplace violence. Workplace violence is defined as "violent acts (including physical attacks and threats of assault) directed at people at work or in the line of duty" by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Healthcare workers accounted for 73% of all non-fatal injuries and illnesses in the workplace in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In the same year, workplace violence claimed the lives of 20 out of 453 health and social workers. The victim's partner or family member was the most frequent attacker in workplace homicides.

Risk Factors for Hospital Violence

While anyone who works in a hospital can be a victim of violence, nurses and assistants who have the most direct contact with patients are at higher risk. Emergency personnel, hospital security personnel, and all healthcare providers are additional hospital employees who face a heightened danger of violence. Depending on the location, size, and style of care, different hospitals have different risk factors for violent behavior.

The following are typical risk factors for hospital violence:

  • working directly with fickle people is especially difficult if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, have a history of violence, or have certain psychotic diagnoses.

  • work in conditions of staff shortages, especially during meals and during visiting hours.

  • patient transportation.

  • long wait for service.

  • crowded, uncomfortable waiting rooms.

  • work alone.

  • poor environmental design.

  • insufficient security.

  • lack of staff training and policies to prevent and manage crisis situations.

  • drug and alcohol abuse.

  • access to firearms.

  • unrestricted movement of the population.

  • poorly lit corridors, rooms, parking lots, and other premises.


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