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Violence against health care workers an ongoing problem

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2023 | Workplace Safety

Health care workers find themselves confronting an increasingly high risk of assault within their workplace. This alarming trend poses a serious threat to the well-being of those who devote their lives to healing and caring for others.

From verbal abuse to physical attacks, the spectrum of assaults on health care professionals has widened, shedding light on an issue that demands prompt attention.

Verbal abuse

A prevalent form of assault faced by health care workers is verbal abuse. Patients and their families may direct frustration, fear or anger toward the people addressing their medical needs. The impact of verbal assaults extends beyond the immediate emotional toll. It can also contribute to burnout, anxiety and long-term psychological effects.

Physical threats

In addition to verbal abuse, health care workers face the risk of physical violence. Instances of patients assaulting doctors, nurses and support staff are on the rise. This paints a grim picture of the challenges confronting those in the health care sector. These physical threats jeopardize the safety of health care professionals. They also compromise the quality of care delivered to patients, as fear and anxiety may impede effective treatment.

Contributing factors

Several factors contribute to the escalating risks faced by health care workers. Long working hours, high-stress environments and inadequate staffing levels create conditions ripe for tension and conflict. The current global health crisis has also exacerbated these challenges, overwhelming health care systems and exhausting professionals.

The American Medical Association reports that health care workers face workplace violence at a rate of 10.4 per 10,000 workers. Across other industries, employees face workplace violence at a rate of 2.1 per 10,000 workers. As the incidence of assault on health care workers continues to rise, action is necessary to protect those who dedicate their lives to the well-being of others.