At Least 2 Nurses Assaulted Per Hour in U.S.

04 Oct, 2022 F.J. Thomas


Sarasota, FL ( – Healthcare burnout can be exasperated by workplace violence. One 2020 study showed that 88.9 percent of nurses had experienced workplace violence, and of that 24.4 percent had been the victim of mobbing, and 11 percent were victims of physical violence.

Additionally, 90 percent of those that reported acts of violence stated that the incident could have been prevented.

A Milliman analysis of the financial statements of 178 California hospitals found that approximately .5 percent of expenses were slated for security costs, equating to around $4.7 billion on security, and $847 million to address violence. In a separate study reviewed in the analysis, the total medical costs of injuries to healthcare workers were estimated at $42.3 million, with indemnity costs of $7.6 million.

According to a recent analysis from healthcare survey company Press Ganey, at least two nursing staff were assaulted every hour in the second quarter of this year. Assault was defined as “a forcible unwanted, physical of sexual contact regardless of who carries out the assault and regardless of whether there is intent to harm”. Accidental contact was not included. The analysis was pulled from data on 483 facilities listed in their National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators® (NDNQI®). The database benchmarks over 250 nursing and quality metrics.

Analysts estimated that the total number of nurses assaulted equated to around 57 attacks per day, averaging out to 1,739 assaults per month, and 5,217 assaults per quarter.

The departments that saw the highest level of assaults included psychiatric units, emergency departments, acute pediatric units including burn, rehab, and surgery. Psychiatric and rehab units have the largest percentage of assaults with the highest levels of moderate and severe injuries. Neonatal intensive care and obstetrics had the lowest nurse assaults.

Most the perpetrators were patients, however family members as well as co-workers also committed assault against nurses in addition to visitors and intruders. The analysts found that while males were the majority of assailants, in pediatric and rehab units females were more likely to commit violence.

The analysts speculate that the number of assaults may be relatively low as assaults are often under-reported. Suggested steps to avoid workplace violence against nursing staff included implementing record-keeping and wellness evaluation programs, as well as ensuring core values and setting expectations for violence in the workplace. The analysts also advised formation of policies and procedures for risk identification, as well as hazard prevention and response plans. Training recommendations included education on warning signs, de-escalation techniques, behavior control, emergency management, communication and teamwork.

According to the 2022 Environmental Scan from the American Hospital Association, 13 percent of nurses stated they received mental health services or medication, and 20 percent reported they felt they needed help but did not get it. Fifty-three percent of public health workers reported experiencing at least one mental health condition. Of those, 47.4 percent experienced PTSD, and those aged 29 and younger had the highest percentage for their age range at 47.4 percent.

Considering healthcare is already paying out $24 billion more per year for clinical staff than in pre-pandemic years, when paired with the alarmingly high burnout rate and unprecedented turnover rates, it will be interesting to see how the healthcare system in the U.S. stands up to the challenges of keeping healthcare workers safe in their jobs.

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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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