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Rising Workplace Violence Against Nurses: A Pressing Issue in the Healthcare Sector

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Zara Nwosu
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Rising Workplace Violence Against Nurses: A Pressing Issue in the Healthcare Sector

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Overview of Workplace Violence Against Nurses

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Workplace violence against nurses is a growing concern that is garnering attention from various health organizations and unions. According to a report published by National Nurses United, there has been a disturbing increase in violence against nurses in their workplace, with a staggering 81.6% of nurses reporting experiences of violence. This trend is more than just a statistic as it carries significant implications for the healthcare sector. It negatively impacts recruitment and retention, with 60% of nurses stating that the experience of violence has influenced their decision to change jobs, leave jobs, or even consider leaving the profession.

The Impact of Workplace Violence

The effects of workplace violence are far-reaching and damaging. Nurses are experiencing both physical and mental injuries as a result of violence, which ultimately affects the quality of care they can provide. In addition, the increase in workplace violence has led to a disturbing trend of nurses considering leaving the profession entirely. The report also highlights that many healthcare employers are failing to take the necessary steps to prevent violence in the workplace.

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The Escalating Issue

The issue of violence against healthcare workers, including nurses, has been escalating at an alarming rate, with a 57% increase in workplace violence reported by registered nurses in 2022 compared to the previous year. The situation has worsened since the onset of the pandemic, with a reported increase of 115% from March 2021. The cost of violence on the healthcare system was estimated to be $8.7 billion in 2017, a figure that is likely to have increased due to the recent surge in incidents.

Preventive Measures and Industry Standards

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has convened a working panel to develop a new regulatory framework for violence prevention in healthcare, which would cover approximately 14 million workers and 300,000 healthcare establishments. The Joint Commission has also introduced new and revised standards for workplace violence prevention effective as of January 1, 2022. These standards emphasize prevention, recognition, response, and reporting of incidents. The development of an enterprise-wide, multidisciplinary violence program is crucial to manage the risk and advance a culture of safety and quality.

Nursing Strikes and Unionization

The nursing profession has been facing numerous challenges, including burnout, unsafe staffing levels, and unsatisfactory wages. These issues have led to increasing incidents of nursing strikes and unionization. Recent strikes at various hospitals highlight concerns about staffing, competitive wages, and patient safety. Unsafe working conditions not only risk nurses' well-being but also jeopardize patient safety. The healthcare industry needs to address these concerns to ensure the well-being of nurses and the quality of patient care.

Call to Action

The report calls for proactive measures to address the issue of workplace violence against nurses. These measures include the implementation of unit-specific workplace violence prevention plans and ensuring appropriate staffing levels. However, despite the urgent need for these protections, many healthcare employers are failing to implement them. The issue of workplace violence in healthcare is a critical concern that requires immediate attention and action.

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