Guest Post | Inside Scoop

Workplace Violence in Healthcare: How Can We Make A Change?

Guest Author: Frank Hahn

June 07, 2021
workplace violence in healthcare

Workplace violence in healthcare is a growing problem in and against our industry. 

Nurses, physician assistants, physicians, and so many more work tirelessly to provide care for their patients and community members, yet they are often at risk for receiving both physical and verbal acts of violence.

We must address this. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) outlines that eight to 30% of providers will experience workplace violence in healthcare throughout their careers.  

On top of this, multidisciplinary scientific organization, Frontiers in Public Health, includes a compilation of academic studies that determine 61.9% of workers have reported being exposed to workplace violence in healthcare. 

Despite there being laws in place to protect them from these acts, it continues to happen across the country; oftentimes, it even goes unreported. 

As healthcare workers, we need a movement to raise awareness and demand change.  

Healthcare workers want to help people, we even took an oath to do no harm; but what happens when that harm is redirected back at us? 

Do we help ourselves? Isn’t allowing this to continue, indeed, doing harm?  

This is not ‘part of the job.

As healthcare providers, we push safety above all, but when it comes to our own, we’re often questioned if we ‘deescalated’ properly.  

Imagine you are in the middle of a shift, your team is understaffed, the physician is nowhere to be found, and you are attempting to juggle several patients at once.  

I’m sure we have all been there before; the stress levels can be very high, and from a patient’s perspective, the result of an understaffed team can be very frustrating.  

One of your patients begins screaming at you, insulting not only the apparent lack of care they’re receiving (you just checked their vitals moments before), but your ability to do your job, intelligence, and appearance as well. 

This is verbal abuse, and a common incident of workplace violence in healthcare.  

At this point, you ask yourself, “Why do I even do this job? 

In an attempt to deescalate the situation, you calmly back away, apologizing to the patient profusely, with your hands up and in front of your face; next thing you know, you fall to the ground from a thrown object.  

The patient has thrown a full backpack at you.  

Your fall is broken by a workstation on wheels; everything begins crashing to the floor.  

You are humiliated.  

The thought, “Did I deescalate?” arises, because you know that you will be asked this by your superior following the incident. 

Why do I even do this job?” You ask.  

But we know why we do it.  

We do it for all those that appreciate our care. We do it to help; that’s the majority of our work.  

But this scenario? This form of workplace violence in healthcare that continues without recourse? 

When do we get to make it stop? When do we get to do so without fear of retribution by management?  

When does workplace violence in healthcare stop being ‘part of the job?’

It stops when we follow through with absolute transparency that there will be zero tolerance of violence on our healthcare providers.  

Spread the word, raise awareness, and protect our healthcare workers, so we can continue to protect and save you! 

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