America’s Most Dangerous Jobs: Nursing
When you think of dangerous jobs, what types of occupations come to mind? Maybe construction, logging, mining, or manufacturing? While those jobs do come with many risks, you may be surprised that one of the most dangerous careers is nursing.
So, why is nursing so dangerous? What occupational hazards do nurses face regularly? Are nurses falling or suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome or overexertion? Not exactly.
Health care workers, nurses in particular, are facing higher than average levels of workplace violence, believe it or not. In fact, the rate of violence for those employed in healthcare settings is as much as twelve times higher than the rate for those in other professions.
Violent acts in health care settings are increasing in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Safety in the workplace is something that needs to be urgently addressed. There are no federal standards for workplace safety in healthcare facilities, although 26 states do have some standards in place. Employers, however, are required to provide a safe working environment for employees at all times. Employees also have rights, and they can refuse to work in an environment that is hazardous, or that feels unsafe.
Fortunately, those who suffer nursing injuries do have options for financial recovery. Pennsylvania and other states have workers’ compensation programs in place to help injured workers recover compensation for injuries sustained while on-the-job. These programs provide regular payments to help replace lost income while the worker is recovering from injuries—regardless of who is at fault.
If you were injured at work in any way, contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney to learn about your next steps. You can file a claim for financial recovery while you heal from your injuries. However, filing a claim and getting approved is not always so easy. Get legal help to increase your chances of success.
What the Statistics Show
The health care and social assistance sector employed more than 19 million people in 2012. Over the last decade, more than 60% of nonfatal injuries caused by workplace violence has occurred in this sector. This accounts for the incidents that require time off work. Many other incidents involving physical and psychological trauma have occurred among healthcare workers.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), based on a study of nurses and healthcare groups, more than 20% of nurses and nursing students experienced physical violence in the past year. More than half of all nurses suffered verbal abuse.
Among emergency department nurses, 12% were physically assaulted, and nearly 60% experienced verbal abuse just in the past week. Among employees in Veterans Health Administration hospitals, 13% are assaulted every year.
Among all healthcare worker injuries requiring time off work, the majority—80%—were caused by patients. 12% were caused by other customers or clients. Students and co-workers each accounted for 3% of the injuries. Suspects or inmates and other parties each accounted for 1% of the injury attacks.
Incidents of Violence in the Workplace
There have been numerous violent incidents against healthcare workers in recent years. In 2015, 14 nurses and staff members were assaulted by a patient in a hospital in Charleston, South Carolina. That same week, nurses were attacked by a patient in a central Florida hospital. All they were trying to do was transfer the man from an ambulance stretcher after he arrived at the hospital.
In another incident, an elderly male patient at a Minnesota hospital attacked four nurses with a metal bar. While two nurses suffered minor injuries such as cuts and bruises, the injuries of the other two nurses were a bit more severe. One broke her wrist, and the other suffered a collapsed lung.
A situation in Los Angeles, California left a nurse with a wounded thigh. She was shot by a 20-year-old man receiving a medical evaluation at a clinic across the street from the hospital where she worked.
In another incident, three nurses were injured by bite and stab wounds after a 58-year-old man entered an emergency room at an Oklahoma City hospital. He was complaining of chest pains as he pulled out a knife and attacked the women.
In some cases, unfortunately, the alterations result in death. In a Boston hospital, a cardiologist died after he was shot by a patient’s son.
Effects of Violence on Health Care Workers
Nurses are here to keep patients safe, but the irony is that nurses are often the ones who need to be protected. Violence in the workplace causes more than just injuries and death. Teamwork and morale decrease because of the fear of being verbally or physically attacked again. It leads to a lack of trust as well as decreased work performance since it can be difficult for healthcare professionals to focus on their jobs when they do not know what their patients will do to them.
Constant incidents of workplace violence also threaten a worker’s sense of safety. They may feel physically ill and not want to report to work. Such a concern can lead to psychological trauma such as anxiety and depression.
As a result, many healthcare workers leave unsafe environments. Nursing jobs are in demand due to understaffing. When nurses leave facilities that are already understaffed, this negatively affects patient care. It also affects the entire health care system in the United States as a whole.
Addressing Workplace Safety
Assault and other forms of violence in the workplace should not be ignored and simply accepted. It is not part of anyone’s job to deal with verbal and physical harassment.
Employers must be proactive and take the appropriate steps to help reduce workplace violence. The first step is to establish a zero-tolerance policy and create an environment that encourages employees to report incidents of violence. No employee should fear retaliation or any other type of punishment for reporting such an incident.
Prevention strategies should look at various perspectives, such as:
- Clinical – This includes patients who are intoxicated.
- Environmental – This refers to the design and layout of the facility and work areas.
- Organizational – This includes the culture of the environment, including all policies and procedures in place.
- Socioeconomic – This involves the emotions and finances of the patients and their family members.
Prevention strategies to consider include better staffing, installation of security devices and more training. Proper training is probably the best tool health care workers can have, but there are not many programs available.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has created a course specifically for nurses. It discusses the types of violence and its consequences. It also talks about risk factors and prevention strategies. This interactive course is free and can be seen on all devices. You can access it here.
Injured at Work? Contact a Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Remember, the law is on your side. If you are injured at work, the state of Pennsylvania has a workers’ compensation program that is there to ensure that you are taken care of, even if your injuries were the result of workplace violence.
The experienced workers’ compensation and work injury attorneys at Krasno Krasno & Onwudinjo will ensure that you receive the benefits that you need and rightfully deserve. We have been serving Philadelphia since 1936. Contact a dedicated member of our legal team today at (800) 952-9640 for a free consultation.
Disclaimer: This content is considered advertising and does not constitute any client-attorney privilege and does not offer any advice or opinion on any legal matter. This release was drafted by Results Driven Marketing, LLC a digital marketing, Public Relations, Advertising and content marketing firm located in Philadelphia, PA.