There are only a few examples of news headlines involving violence against nurses from around the world, and the frequency of such incidents appears to be rising. Patients who are mentally ill or under the influence of alcohol or drugs are the most likely to be admitted to an emergency department or a long-term care facility.


In the United States, workplace violence is defined as any physical assault, threatening behavior, or verbal abuse that occurs in the workplace, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Violence comprises both overt and covert aggressiveness, and it can range from verbal abuse to homicide in its severity.

As a result of its policy statement on incivility, bullying, and workplace violence, the American Nurses Association has taken a strong stand against violence against nurses. The policy statement was released in July 2015. The development of evidence-based measures to avoid and mitigate the impacts of incivility, bullying, and workplace violence to promote the health and well-being of registered nurses and other healthcare professionals, according to the American Nurses Association (ANA).


What do nurses need to know about workplace violence, and what can they do in these instances, as the incidence of workplace violence continues to rise?


1. Never accept that violence is an unavoidable element of the profession.

It has been discovered through research that many incidences of violence against nurses go unreported. The fact that nurses view aggressive behavior as a normal aspect of the patient's problem could be one of the contributing factors. "He couldn't help himself," "She was intoxicated." Another possible cause is a genuine or perceived belief in management's indifference, as well as a fear of being fired if they raise their voices against injustice.

Whenever a nurse is hurt in an assault, the incident should be treated as if it were any other type of work-related injury, as required by rules governing health and safety in the workplace.


2. Take immediate action following an assault

Move yourself to a safe location and ask a coworker to stand in for you if you have been abused or threatened. If further security or police help is required, contact them. In addition to informing your supervisor, you should also inform your union of the assault. This can be done verbally at first, but it is recommended that you follow up with written reports. Make use of your civic rights to file a police report in response to the event.


3. Assist coworkers who have been assaulted.

The presence of a third party in this person's corner to guide and support them in reporting to management, drafting incident and police reports, and even accompanying them to the doctor and court would be extremely beneficial to them.

Nurses could push for the implementation of a peer-based support system, which is extremely effective in assisting the individual in feeling safe, valued, and respected in the past.


4. Speak out for appropriate organizational policy.

It is essential that all organizations have a comprehensive policy and set of other safeguards in place to deal with acts of violence. Unfortunately, many organizations do not consider this a priority since they base their decisions exclusively on statistics of incidents rather than the true and hidden costs.

Nurses who work at a company can push for better policy implementation. This would include preventive procedures such as incident reporting and follow-up investigations, which could reveal plausible causes (for example, understaffing) and ways in which such occurrences could be avoided in the future. In addition, staff members can be trained in tactics for de-escalation of violence, and patient records can be flagged when there is a possibility for or a history of violence in the patient population. A greater emphasis should be placed on the policy on how occurrences of violence should be handled, including the support that must be provided to the staff member who was involved. The human resources departments should be in charge of ensuring that the policies are followed to the letter.


5. Always keep a panic device with you at all times in case of an emergency.

During their shifts, several hospitals do not allow nurses to have their cell phones with them in their pockets. Maintaining a handheld noise device or pager in your pocket can ensure that you are always prepared in the event of an emergency at your institution. Panic buttons in inpatient rooms should also be available for your protection as well as the protection of your patients.

What other tips can you add to the above? Please share below.

May 12, 2023

Natasha Osei

Passionate Nurse Practitioner | People person
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