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Nurse Patient Violence

Who Protects the Nation’s Nurses from Patient Violence?

December 20, 2019

One in four nurses has been attacked at work, according to a recent study. Nurses deal with new circumstances every day – new patients with a wide range of health histories. Sometimes patients have violent outbursts or attack healthcare workers, for reasons involving mental health issues, criminal backgrounds, etc.

The Karl Truman Law Office believes our country’s nurses do invaluable work every day. They save lives and care for our injured loved ones. We hope healthcare employers across Kentucky and Indiana will act to protect their nurses and other workers from physical assault with appropriate preventive measures and protocols for reporting assault.

Some Are Calling the Attacks on Healthcare Workers a National Epidemic

A 2014 survey by the Journal of Emergency Nursing found that nurses who care for patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, or patients under the influence of drugs and alcohol, are the most at-risk for attacks. Horror stories abound of nurses attacked, hit or punched, spit on and otherwise assaulted by patients. Oftentimes nurses are without the kind of protection needed to deter these attacks.

The past decade has seen an uptick in these types of attacks against nurses and hospital staff, according to Penn Live Patriot News. Experts reportedly credit the increased frequency to multiple factors:

  • The opioid prescription abuse epidemic. Victims of overdose may be revived with a reversal agent, which can lead to a confused, violent waking in which they lash out at surrounding healthcare workers.
  • Rising healthcare costs, which can place emotional stress on the patient and their families, which may cause them to lash out unreasonably.
  • Understaffed hospitals. Long waits in the ER or for other hospital treatments may cause patients and their families to get angry, sometimes violently angry.
  • Lack of mental health services, which can cause people in need of mental healthcare to go to the ER, because they have nowhere else to go.

Employer and Legislative Attempts to Prevent Violence Against Nurses

Some states have attempted to tackle the issue legislatively. In Kentucky, State Representative Kim Moser has said she plans to propose a state bill in the next legislative session aimed at preventing violence in healthcare workplaces. Certain employers are implementing measures to warn healthcare workers when a patient is a known risk for violence, or to establish channels for reporting assault.

According to WHAS11, the Kentucky Nurses Association surveyed 177 anonymous nurses in our state to ask about workplace violence. Seventy-two percent said that workplace violence had risen in the last year. Twenty-six percent reported they were never trained to report incidents of violence or assault. Some respondents said they were actively discouraged by their employers from reporting violence.

Learn More About Your Options for Pursuing Justice

The experienced injury attorneys at the Karl Truman Law Office may be able to help you if you are the victim of workplace violence and work injuries. For a complimentary consultation, please call us at 502-222-2222. We have offices in Louisville and Jeffersonville, and are proud to fight for healthcare workers across the region.