Many Workplaces have their degrees of potential dangers and the medical field is no exception. In fact, healthcare professionals are more likely to experience this more than most other service type professions. They work in an unpredictable environment and need to be ready for almost anything.
The Emergency Nurses Association has stated, “Workplace violence is a significant occupational hazard facing emergency nurses.” Several studies have been conducted showing these kinds of occurrences are on the rise.
A 2011 survey conducted by the ENA had shown the frequency of incidences that occurred during a 7 day stretch. Verbal violence being the most common top complaint; however those who reported being physically assaulted reported having more than one encounter within a single visit with that patient.
Dangers to nurses, doctors, technicians, and paramedics do not stop at verbal or physical abuse. They also have some additional dangers lurking and health risks such as coming into contact with blood borne pathogens, contagious diseases, chemical hazards, slips and falls. If a health care worker has been spit on, scratched, vomited on or pricked with an infected needle, they run the risk of infection or other complications. These types of injuries can pose long-term negative effects that can have an impact on the person’s profession, as well as personal life. Some additional risks may cost them a lifetime of turmoil, or even their life.
Violence in the emergency room or even in private practices is a serious problem. In 2010 penalties were increased for individuals who injure or make an attempt at injuring on duty health care providers. Virginia has taken this situation seriously and has passed laws in regards to committing battery against a health care professional. Whether it is in an emergency room of a hospital, clinic or any facility where they offer emergency health care they will be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. The person, if convicted may serve a term of confinement of 15 days in jail, with a minimum of two days mandatory term of confinement.
Better health care planning and safety strategies for nurses and practitioners in the workplace should be taken seriously. Prevention and awareness are always effective tools. It will also be cost effective to reduce the number of works’ compensation claims, legal suits, and time paid for missed work which may include overtime to cover the absent employee.
Most of these patients have a mental condition, are on drugs or alcohol and may be looking to receive prescription drugs, or have a condition where they cannot help certain reactions as in seizures. It would be beneficial to health care workers to be educated on the various potential situations and dangers that can arise in the workplace.
This education should be implemented into their training programs for the safety of the workers, so that if a situation presents itself, the worker can be ready and have a defense or course of action. Everyone deserves to function with the maximum amount of safety in their workplace.
About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.