Study: More than half of ED nurses physically assaulted at work

Everyone knows that nurses have a tough job, but getting spit at, hit, pushed or shoved, scratched and kicked is another matter entirely. These are just some of the hazards faced by nurses working the emergency departments of hospitals, according to a new study released by the Emergency Nurses Association.

According to the ENA, more than half of nurses report experiencing physical violence on the job, and one in four have experienced such violence more than 20 times in the past three years. Meanwhile, one in five nurses have experienced more than 200 episodes of verbal abuse during the same period, the ENA found.

Given these stats, it's not surprising that more than two-thirds of emergency nurses rated their safety on the job at five or lower on a ten-point scale, and that one in three said they'd considered leaving their jobs, or even the profession, due to the violent environment.

The ENA study found that the risk of experiencing violence was highest for nurses working in facilities that had barriers to reporting violence, including the feeling that reports could lower customer service scores, ambiguous policies for reporting incidents, fear of retaliation from ED managers and hospital administrators, and a sense that if there was no physical injury they wouldn't be taken seriously.

To reduce violence in the ED, the association had several recommendations, including making sure that ED staff know that senior administration supports efforts to prevent and mitigate violence; encouraging nurse executives to take steps to make the ED safer; establishing a culture supportive of reporting violent incidence; and providing access to medical care and follow-up counseling for staff who are workplace violence victims.

To learn more about the study:
- read this ENA press release