Emergency Department Violence Surveillance Study

Source: Emergency Nurses Association, Institute for Emergency Nursing Research, August 2010

Nine hundred deaths and 1.7 million nonfatal assaults occur each year in the United States due to workplace violence. These numbers represent only the most serious physical violent incidents; the extent to which all types of violence are experienced in the workplace remains unknown. Workplace violence has been a serious concern for emergency nurses. In addition to psychiatric units and nursing homes, the emergency department (ED) is one of the most dangerous work settings in health care for nurses because of violence from patients and visitors.

Due to under-reporting, the occurrence of physical and verbal violence toward emergency nurses is not well understood. In addition, violence in the ED is likely increasing with the ongoing nursing shortage, crowding issues, and longer patient waiting times. Therefore, it is essential to investigate the actual extent of violence and aggression toward emergency nurses. Efforts to obtain ongoing objective data allows for tracking changes related to violence toward emergency nurses as well as the processes used to respond to violence.

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