Improved efforts are needed to reduce the amount of violence against staff at psychiatric hospitals, according to a recent study in the Journal of Advanced Nursing. The study, published Jan. 20, showed that 99% of staff reported verbal conflict with patients, with 70% of psychiatric hospital workers reporting assault in the last 12 months.
We are beginning to broaden our approach to examining the factors that lead to conflict and assault in inpatient settings, and this will help us to design safer environments that are less conducive to these problems, lead author Erin Kelly said in the study.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health defines workplace violence as any physical assault, threatening behavior or verbal abuse occurring in the workplace, according to the American Nurses Association. Several states have established or increased penalties for assaulting nurses, including Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Vermont, according to the American Nurses Association.
A bill sponsored by the California Nurses Association requiring hospitals to establish workplace violence prevention plans to protect healthcare workers from aggressive and violent behavior remains in the state senate. The legislation was proposed following the death of Cynthia Palomata, RN, who died in October 2010 after an attack at a Contra Costa detention center, according to nationalnursesunited.org. That same month, Donna Gross, a Napa State Hospital psychiatric technician was killed by a patient, according to the Napa Valley Register.
But it isnt just incidents with patients that are cause for concern. The Journal of Advanced Nursing study also found verbal conflict with other staff to be at 92%.
The American Psychiatric Nurses Association chartered a task force on workplace violence in May 2007, according to the APNA. APNA recommendations to address workplace violence include advocating for safe work environments, stricter laws and mandatory regulations enforcing safe work practices and encouraging nurse managers to create and maintain supportive work environments with respectful communication and efficient and blame-free incident reporting.
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