Working in health care is a calling for some people. Unfortunately, the profession of caring for others can also be incredibly dangerous for those who choose it. Compared with other workers, those in health care are especially vulnerable to acts of workplace violence.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported that health care workers suffered four times as many acts of serious workplace violence from 2002 to 2013. OSHA defines incidents of serious workplace violence as those that require victims to take days off work to recover. OSHA also points out that nurses tend to suffer the brunt of this violence.
The different types of violence
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says there are four different types of workplace violence that take place in health care. Only one of these types involves violence from a personal relationship. The other three are:
- A perpetrator who has criminal intent but no relationship to the facility or employees
- A customer or patient who gets violent while receiving care
- Employee violence
Part of the problem is that patients and family members are often under intense emotional strain, which can lend to an environment of aggression. Patients who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs also pose a threat to workers. Violence can also be a problem in facilities that are located in areas with high crime rates.
Workplace violence is not uncommon
According to multiple surveys, at least 21% of nurses say that they have suffered a physical assault at work. Another 50% report suffering verbal abuse. Over an average seven–day period, 12% of emergency room nurses suffer from violence.
These figures might not be wholly accurate and in fact are probably on the low side. Data indicates that most health care workers do not report incidents of physical assault or abuse. Verbal abuse often goes unreported, too. Many victims say they do not have any faith in their workplace reporting systems, while others fear retaliation.
Employers need to step up
Improving trust in the workplace is one way employers can make it easier for victims to report incidents of violence. This only works if there is already a good system in place for reporting violence. Implementing and updating policies can also help.
If you received an injury in an incident of workplace violence, you know just how serious your situation is. On top of your physical injuries, you might also be struggling with the emotional aftermath, lost wages and medical bills. In Ohio, you can address the financial side of your damages by pursuing workers’ compensation benefits.