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Workplace Violence as a Nursing Care Issue

Nursing Care Issue

Workplace violence is one of the major issues in professional nursing. Whether it is patient-to-nurse or nurse-to-nurse violence, this problem is still present in many places.

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A plan for quality improvement can lessen the rates of violence, increase workplace safety, and protect nurses from patient aggression and bullying during their shifts.

Details of the Issue

Many sources of aggression towards the nursing staff currently exist. First of all, patient-to-nurse violence is a well-known problem that is common in many hospitals and long-term care facilities. According to Speroni, Fitch, Dawson, Dugan, and Atherton (2014), it is especially noticeable in emergency care. Both verbal and physical types of abuse are noted by registered nurses of different ages. Workplace incidents often include patients with dementia, substance abuse, and Alzheimer disease (Speroni et al., 2014). Moreover, visitors of patients also can become perpetrators, which further complicates the issue of nurses’ protection.

Although verbal abuse such as shouting, yelling, and swearing is not as damaging as physical abuse (grabbing, kicking, or scratching), it has many negative consequences for workers. Edward, Ousey, Warelow, and Lui (2014) also note that incidents of verbal abuse are three times more frequent than those of physical violence, which means that most nurses can encounter verbal aggression during their practice. Nurses that experience verbal violence report to being shocked and confused by these incidents. Many of them develop stress symptoms and lose confidence, while some can start avoiding their workplace. Changing the place of work or even leaving the profession are also among the outcomes to verbal abuse.

While physical abuse is rarer than verbal, it is still a significant issue for professional nurses. According to Edward et al. (2014), physical assaults are more prevalent is long-term care settings, geriatrics, and mental health institutions. Emergency care setting is also one of the places where physical violence is widespread. Such a high rate of incidents in the emergency department can be explained by patients having an acute problem or a disturbed mental state. Furthermore, the most frequent instigators of conflicts and physical harm are individuals with alcohol or drug intoxication. Physical abuse leaves nurses feeling stressed, anxious, and unsafe in their working environment. Moreover, some victims have to seek medical help.

Nurse-to-nurse aggression is another problem that places workers in a difficult situation. One of the most common types of violence is vertical abuse, meaning physician to nurse hostility. Horizontal harassment, or bullying, is also a problem especially prevalent among older nurses verbally harassing or insulting less experienced workers. These types of aggression can be followed by nurses feeling less confident about their skills, developing symptoms of burnout, being emotionally exhausted, and leaving their position. Bullying in the workplace is connected with physical violence less often, but it still has many negative consequences.

Reason Issue Selected

Workplace violence is a problem that is hard to resolve in a short period of time or with a simple intervention. However, it is a pressing issue that requires quality improvement. Regardless of its type, abuse should be eliminated in workplaces to ensure the safety of all workers. Professional nurses deal with stress on the daily basis because of many factors such as high responsibility and constant contact with various individuals. Problems of verbal and physical abuse lead to symptoms of stress and burnout being significantly exacerbated. As Speroni et al. (2014) note, more intervention programs should be created for nurses not only to avoid violent incidents but also to report them efficiently. Therefore, the issue of workplace violence should be studied further to present new types of quality improvement which would lower the rates of bad episodes and make nurses’ working experience safe.

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Edward, K. L., Ousey, K., Warelow, P., & Lui, S. (2014). Nursing and aggression in the workplace: A systematic review. British Journal of Nursing, 23(12), 653-659.

Speroni, K. G., Fitch, T., Dawson, E., Dugan, L., & Atherton, M. (2014). Incidence and cost of nurse workplace violence perpetrated by hospital patients or patient visitors. Journal of Emergency Nursing, 40(3), 218-228.

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