July 29, 2009

Half of ER nurses assaulted on the job

More than half of U.S. emergency room nurses report being physically assaulted on the job, including being hit, pushed and kicked, a nurses group said.

The study by the Emergency Nurses Association said that 25 percent of ER nurses have experienced violence more than 20 times in the past three years, while 20 percent have experienced verbal abuse more than 200 times during the same period.

People who work in helping professions shouldn't have to put their physical and emotional well-being on hold to do their jobs, Bill Briggs, president of the Emergency Nurses Association said in a statement.

More than half of the nurses surveyed cited one or more of the following as precipitating factors when they experienced abuse: patients or visitors under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs; psychiatric patients being treated in the emergency department; crowding; prolonged wait times; and shortage of emergency department nurses.

Sixty-seven percent of emergency nurses rated their perception of safety in the emergency department at five or lower on a 10-point scale. One-third of nurses said they considered leaving nursing because of the violence.

The survey involved 3,465 emergency U.S. nurses nationwide. No margin of error was provided.