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Study Shows Healthcare Workers are more Prone to Violence

Study Shows Healthcare Workers are more Prone to Violence

Being a healthcare provider is one of the parent’s dream jobs for their kids to have. They might think that this kind of job is safer as compared to other risky ones. However, this might not be the case anymore with the current time.

It is a fact that healthcare providers are well-appreciated because of serving others. This is because these healthcare professionals are driven by their mission to serve those who are in need.  

According to the US News, among all professions, healthcare workers are the ones who are more susceptible to injury. There are about 654,000 of workers suffer from injury every year. These injuries are in the form of back injury, needle sticks, smoke inhalation, and blood and body fluid exposure, not to mention the kicks, bites, scratches, and hits that health workers get from patients themselves. These problem-causing factors are usually considered as part of the job; thus, the dangers that they bring are unnoticed or usually considered as normal. Moreover, health workers are expected to prioritize their patients first. Who would have expected them to be in such danger?

The World Health Organization stated that between 8% and 38% of health workers suffer from physical violence at specific points in their career while others suffer from verbal abuse. The US news also indicated that 45 percent of all violent incidents happen in the healthcare setting itself.

The seem-to-be normal things that healthcare providers do are the ones that put them at risk. Let us take, for example, lifting or moving the patients. Nurses usually do this at least once in an hour. Normally, lifting is considered to be part of the routine skills. However, it cannot be denied that while nurses are doing lifting, they manage not just the patients but also the other equipment. As what the US News stated, this is believed to slow down helping the patient and being efficient at the same time. Thus, even though the routines that they do for their patients cause them to have an aching back, they tend to take this as a sign of courage instead of an injury.

Another instance that put health care providers at risk are the needles in the workplace. A hospital or clinic is expected to have a lot of these since these are one of the main tools in treating the patients. Thus, they estimately have 385,000 of needle sticks per year. The possibility of these needle sticks to inflict harm to the health workers is still considerably high despite education and technology. These may draw a lot of blood or cause workers to have some diseases.

Aside from the physical injuries that they get, they also usually face the upset patients or family members. To think about thoroughly, these instances do not occur for once but many times in day or month. However, the health workers are trying to deal with these since these are considered to be parts of their job.

Why Does Violence Happen in the Healthcare Setting?

The ECRI Institute indicated that violence is penetrated not just by the patients but by family members, visitors, employees, or criminals. The factors that contribute to violence in healthcare are as follows:

Distressed patients and family members

It is not anymore a surprising fact to know that patients feel very weak and poor because of their illnesses or diseases. They tend to be so negative considering that they cannot anymore be sure about their future. It is also said that patients who suffer from dementia, psychosis, or other mental issues are the main attackers. As for their relatives or family members, the stress of taking care their affected member and the emotional disturbance that they feel may also cause them to have irritable or explosive behavior. The Scientific American reported that almost 50 percent of the attacks come from the family members who are drunk or on drugs. This was based on a study conducted in 2014.

Stressful Environment

Hospitals or any other health centers expected have stressful environments. This kind of environment may be the trigger itself.

Easily Accessible Hospital Setting

Since health care centers are expected to accommodate all patients, then they are also expected to be open round the clock. Thus, the place’s accessibility may also attract some other forms of dangers.

Attractive presence of drugs

Drugs may have impacts on everyone in the place. These may stimulate their emotions that would lead some people to feel differently. Not just that, these drugs are harmful to their physical health.

How Does it Affect the Workers?

The victims or witnesses of the different forms of violence are at risk of having emotional consequences that may cause them to feel burnout, dissatisfied with their jobs, and demotivated to work. Apparently, these possible consequences will affect both the health worker and the patients as well.

Clearly, violence at work causes physical, mental, and emotional effects that affect the workers negatively. As what WHO specified, the consequences affect not just the workers but also the quality of health care. Not just that, it is also said that there is an immense financial loss in the health sector due to this problem.

How to Avoid Violence in the Healthcare Setting?

The presence of violence is just lurking around the healthcare area. Though there is not a perfect way to stop it, at least there are some steps to take to lessen the chance of experiencing violence. Here are the following measures to take to avoid violence in a healthcare setting:

  • Set comprehensive policies and procedures against violence in the workplace.
  • Identify the risk and risk levels through assessing the objective measures of violence.
  • Orient the healthcare staff to recognize any signs of violence and so they may able to react on it immediately.
  • Build a comprehensive workplace violence prevention program.
  • Encourage all staff to report any forms of violence without hesitation.
  • Be sure to do follow-up and investigation on any violence-related reports or incidents.  
  • There should be an emphasis on the techniques on lifting and needle disposal.
  • Always have the right approach in dealing with the patients and their family members.
  • Escape routes should be repeated in rounds and huddles regularly.


Truly, it is an ironic thing to find out the real situation of health care providers. They serve their patients wholeheartedly while enduring all the dangers they have. In fact, if healthcare employers fail to provide a safe working environment, this may result in some losses like fines, litigations, claims, or even reputation damages as what ECRI Institute indicated. However, these lapses may be concealed by the common idea that everything that happens in the healthcare setting is part of employees’ job.

Yet, it is obvious that these healthcare workers go home with both physical and mental stress. This is obviously not the kind of problem that should be just shaken off. For this situation calls for another way of looking through normal situations. Or else, the number of what we call as ‘patients’ will increase in no time, and then there will be an ending cycle regarding this situation. It is now time for the tables to turn.