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Recent Survey Provides Insight on Workplace Violence in Healthcare

15 Jun, 2023 F.J. Thomas

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Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – A 79-year old former family physician has been sentenced to 17 years in prison after a plea deal on sexual assault charges for assaults that occurred in 2018 and 2019. Richard McGrath, DO, a former employee of Sitka Community Hospital in Alaska plead guilty in a plea deal to one count of third-degree sexual assault in three separate sexual assaults. Fifteen years of his sentence has been suspended, which means that McGrath will only serve two years in prison.

According to a recent survey on workplace violence from Premier Inc., in coordination with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, around 40 percent of healthcare workers have experienced workplace violence in the last two years, and most cases are never reported to law enforcement. The majority of incidents have been most often female nursing staff at the hands of men.

While the large majority of workplace violence reported in the survey was from dealing with a combative patient, at 51 percent, 14 percent of the violence reported was sexual assault. Of those that had experienced workplace violence, 60 percent were nurses. Fifty-three percent of all other healthcare workers, and 66 percent of nurses reported having experienced physical or sexual abuse within the last 2 years.

Around 62 percent of the healthcare workers polled indicated that the perpetrators were men. Around 61 percent reported that the perpetrators were between the ages of 36 and 65, and 67 percent stated that the perpetrators were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Studies have shown that around 70 percent of emergency nurses, and 20 percent of emergency physicians have been physically assaulted. Earlier this year, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania conducted a survey on how emergency nurses view electronic health record–based behavioral flag notifications. The researchers interviewed 25 emergency nurses with around 6 years of experience on whether they believed the notifications would be helpful in preventing workplace violence.

While many of the nurses believed the flags could serve as a forewarning to be careful in their approach of certain patients, and to use more safety skills and caution, many were skeptical of the flag’s ability to prevent violence from ever occurring. There was also noted concern of the potential of the unintended consequences of introducing bias into patient care.

The researchers concluded that one kind of intervention alone is not enough to prevent violence in emergency departments, and that further research is needed to explore other procedures and policies that could be used with behavioral flags without impacting patient care.


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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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