A recent article released in the Journal of Clinical Nursing has revealed the healthcare industry to be potentially the most violent industry to work in.
The study surveyed 365 doctors and nurses working in the emergency department which revealed that within the past 12 months, 76.2% of the participants experienced violence in the workplace, although the vast majority (88.8%) was not physical, but verbal abuse. The study also revealed that it was not necessarily the patients that are the source of violence directed at the healthcare team, but rather it comes from the friends and family of the patient, accounting for 59.1% of cases.
This is an alarming trend that may be more of a reflection on society, rather than the clinicians themselves. With alcohol and drug fuelled violence on the rise, it seems this trend has extended into the hospital and is putting the health care team at risk. But could this be an indicator of a general loss of respect from the public? Where doctors and nurses used to be held in high regard, they are now thought of as simple service workers that can be threatened and intimidated into submission?
This trend was identified back in 2001, with an Australian Journal publishing a damning report proclaiming the healthcare industry officially the most violent industry. Again, that article focussed on nurses working in the emergency department who had experienced physical or verbal abuse from a patient or relative. Critically, it found that increased waiting times and frustration were a strong component, with inadequate security and institutional concern contributing to nurses fielding more violent threats. Most alarmingly, the study also identified that the increased use and availability of weapons as another major contributor.
The Australian government has recently initiated a campaign to draw attention to the abuse of healthcare workers in an attempt to minimise the instances of violence. The effectiveness of this campaign however, are questionable, with a french tourist recently sentenced to jail time after assaulting a paramedic who was attempting to assist him. It seems it may be time to beef up security, or otherwise permanently station police officers in emergency departments to deter and respond to threats of violence against the healthcare team.
You can find links to the article below.