Nurses play a key role in providing health care and support to patients, but many of them also experience physical assaults on the job. These assaults can have serious consequences for nurses’ physical and emotional well-being, as well as their ability to deliver quality care.
Understanding the prevalence and impact of physical assaults on nurses is important for addressing this issue in health care settings.
Prevalence of physical assaults
The American Nurses Association reports that one in four nurses say they have experienced physical assaults on the job. However, not all nurses report such incidents, so many believe assaults on nurses happen even more often than estimates suggest.
Factors contributing to physical assaults
Patients and visitors may become violent due to various factors, including substance use or mental health issues. Nurses working in emergency departments, psychiatric units and long-term care facilities are particularly vulnerable to physical assaults due to the nature of their work and the populations they serve.
Impact on nurses
Physical assaults take a major toll on nurses, both physically and emotionally. Nurses may sustain injuries ranging from bruises and cuts to more severe injuries such as fractures or concussions. Beyond the physical harm, nurses may experience psychological distress. Many face anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder after facing workplace violence. Assaults can also erode nurses’ sense of safety and job satisfaction, leading to burnout and turnover in the profession.
Addressing physical assaults against nurses requires a multi-faceted approach. By acknowledging the prevalence and impact of assaults and taking proactive measures to address them, health care institutions and policymakers can create safer work environments for nurses.