Nurses under-report violence, saying it's a "waste of time"

Workplace violence against healthcare workers could be even more prevalent than previously thought, with surveys indicating incidents of violence are massively under-reported.

Surveys indicate that nurses only report the most serious incidents, which likely represent just a sliver of actual cases, Medscape Multispecialty reported. In explaining unreported cases, half of respondedents say they weren't hurt physically, about a quarter say reporting the violence is inconvenient, and about one in five say it's just part of the job.

They also think nothing will be done if they report incidents, according to the article, making the report a "waste of time."

In addition, nurses don't necessary understand what constitutes workplace violence, Dan Hartley, Ed.D., workplace violence prevention coordinator at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, said in the article.

One Georgia state legislator thinks the closure of state mental-health facilities is partly to blame for what appears to be escalating violence against nurses and emergency department workers, the Rome News-Tribune reported. State Rep. Katie Dempsey (R) co-chairs a joint study committee on violence against healthcare workers, which has been visiting hospitals around the state.

The committee is considering increasing the penalty for violence against healthcare workers in line with the penalties for attacking law enforcement officers, the newspaper reported.  Minnesota lawmakers are considering a similar rule change, the Star-Tribune reported. In Minnesota, that would mean increasing possible prison sentences from two years to three years, and fines from $4,000 to $6,000, according to the report.

Four nurses in Maplewood, Minnesota, were injured on Nov. 2 when a patient attacked them with a metal bar. Assault-related worker's compensation injury claims by Minnesota nurses are on track to equal the previous two years combined.

In some cases, the federal government is stepping in. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined a Brooklyn hospital $78,000 in August for failing to protect its workers against violence, including about 40 violence incidents in a two-month period.

For more information:
- read the Medscape article
- here's the News-Tribune story
- check out the Star-Tribune article