Workplace violence is increasing in Pennsylvania hospitals and in medical facilities across the U.S. As reported by City Journal magazine, the threat of physical violence faced by healthcare workers remains high whether the facility is in an urban or a rural area.
Hospital emergency rooms have the greatest risk for Type II violence, which refers to assaults on workers by patients or clients.
OSHA reports healthcare workers more likely to be seriously injured by on-the-job violence
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration categorizes as “serious” those incidents of workplace violence “requiring days off” for an employee to recover. OSHA data shows that the number of serious incidents of workplace violence in the healthcare field is almost equal to that of all other fields combined. Compared to other professions, the risk of incurring a serious injury due to on-the-job violence is four times as high for healthcare workers.
Almost half of ER doctors surveyed report physical attacks at work
As reported by The American College of Emergency Physicians, 47% of 3,539 ER physicians surveyed in 2018 said they experienced physical attacks at work. More than 950 of those attacks resulted in injuries. About half of the survey respondents also said that the violence in hospitals is increasing.
The situation in hospitals is not a recent development. A much earlier study, conducted in 1991 by Penn State University and involving 124 hospitals based in Pennsylvania, showed that almost two-thirds of the ER nurses in the Keystone state’s hospitals experienced physical assaults while on duty.
Factors contributing to the increase in violence
“ER boarding,” which refers to acute mental-health patients remaining in ERs while they await admission to psychiatric facilities, can increase existing overcrowding issues. The opioid epidemic has also contributed to the violence. Heavily addicted patients experiencing withdrawal symptoms may exhibit aggressive behavior when the ER staff denies them further drugs.
Workers’ comp protects Pennsylvania hospital employees
Like employees in many other fields in Pennsylvania, workers’ compensation covers doctors, nurses, aids and administrative personnel working in hospitals and medical facilities. If injured on the job or while performing their employment-related duties off-site, healthcare workers may receive compensation for lost wages and medical treatments related to a work-related injury. This coverage extends to injuries resulting from harm inflicted by patients or co-workers.