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Call it something of a silent endemic: workplace violence in the healthcare industry is both disturbingly prevalent and drastically underreported. This creates a situation in which healthcare workers suffer the physical and emotional tolls of violence while not being able to carry out their jobs to the best of their abilities. In this article, we will examine a few important facts, figures, and expert opinions about workplace violence in the healthcare industry—as well as potential solutions to this problem.

How common is workplace violence in the healthcare industry?

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, which records data on virtually every industry, reported that workers in the healthcare industry are five times more likely to be victims of a violent attack than the average person. Nurses are at the highest risk among all healthcare workers to become victim, due to the fact that they spend the most amount of time with patients. Violent incidents are also more likely to occur in emergency departments, in residential living spaces, and during nighttime hours. Overall, 55.6 percent of nurses report that they have experienced physical and/or verbal violence.

Why is workplace violence so common in the healthcare industry?

There are many contributing factors to violence in the healthcare industry—and these factors are often intersectional. Here are a few important points to consider:

  • The healthcare environment is often very stressful for patients, patients’ loved ones, and even healthcare workers themselves.
  • The unavailability of acute psychiatric treatment means that emergency departments must often provide medical clearance for patients with psychiatric emergencies.
  • Drug and alcohol related injuries (and arrests) cause many people to enter the ER with a heavily altered state of mind.
  • An overall attitude of silence and permissiveness towards workplace violence in the healthcare industry compounds the problem

What can be done to prevent incidents of violence in the healthcare industry?

Unfortunately, there are no simple solutions to this grave and ongoing problem. Important measures to mediate risk, however, include instituting a zero-tolerance policy for violence, and training hospital staff to know how to respond to such situations. Finally, instituting a tracking system such as the one offered here at Facility Team can enable hospital staff and security to react in a fast and organized fashion to potential threats. Visit Facility Team online to learn more.