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  • Windy Carson-Smith

Updated: Jan 23

Violence against nurses in the workplace is real. Nurses are on the front lines of health care and bear the brunt of the physical and verbal abuse from patients - gender, public workplace, nurse stereotypes, long hours are all factors. Over 20% of registered nurses and nursing students reporting they’d been physically assaulted and more than half saying they’d been verbally abused over the course of a year, according to a survey conducted by the American Nurses Association. In many cases, the violence is perpetrated by patients or their family members. At this time, OSHA does not require employers to implement workplace violence prevention programs, but it provides voluntary guidelines and may cite employers for failing to provide a workplace free from recognized serious hazards. Some states have legislated that employers develop a program while the majority of states have advanced laws that amend existing statute for assaults of first responders by adding nurses and /or increasing the penalty associated with such behavior. There is variation between states as to how to address this issue.

  • All states like California should require healthcare providers to keep a log of violent incidents and develop violence prevention plans.

  • All states should mandate hospital and healthcare develop and offer workplace violence prevention programs.

  • All hospitals should have and should develop protocols for communicating warnings to staff of erupting violence and potentially violent settings.

  • While many states have advanced laws that amend existing statute for assaults of first responders by adding nurses and /or increasing the penalty associated with such behavior, all states should adopt such laws.

There is a lot that should and could be done to address violence against nurses in the workplace.