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Nursing is a rewarding and noble career because we try make a positive impact on peoples lives. All Nurses who are employed in hospitals, clinics or wherever should enjoy the same protections that everyone else expects with regards to feeling safe at work. Unfortunately, the issue of dealing with violence against nurses is a serious issue that, to date, is not being addressed as effectively as it needs to be.

Instances of violence against nurses is seen far too often in the news, and while it may seem like these are isolated incidents, it is in fact a growing problem across the nation. Violence in health care can take several different forms, as it can be verbal, physical, or emotional. It can stem from co-workers bullying each other, a distraught family member, an active shooter, gang violence, and physical attacks by patients. Whatever the cause and origin of the violent act, healthcare facilities must be prepared to respond to each act, while taking preventative measures to end this epidemic of violence.

Workplace violence, however it manifests itself, is a major concern today. It is defined as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. Workplace violence does not discriminate, as it can be violence against visitors, employees, clients and customers. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/

  • A Utah man punched a nurse after she tried to prevent him from leaving a hospital.
  • A patient strangled a nurse with her stethoscope until she lost consciousness.
  • A Pennsylvania nurse was raped by a patient.
  • Two nurses were held hostage and beaten by a patient
  • A nurse was raped at a hospital in suburban Chicago.
  • A Massachusetts nurse was repeatedly stabbed while assessing a patient.
  • A nurse in Salt Lake City was manhandled and led off in handcuffs by a police detective after she declined to let the officer draw blood from an unconscious patient.

While it might seem like an isolated incident to those who work outside the health care field, violence against nurses is epidemic, with more than 20% of registered nurses and nursing students reporting they’d been physically assaulted and more than half saying they’d been verbally abused over the course of a year, according to a survey by the American Nurses Association. In many cases, the violence is perpetrated by patients or their family members. There are a number of reasons speculated to explain as to why violence against nurses has escalated. The prevalence of violence is astronomical and unfortunately nurses have been viewed as being subservient. The simple fact is Nurses don’t report abuse unless its really egregious. 


Dealing with violence against nurses will only be accomplished with a continuous effort over time. But it’s simply a minimal expectation that Nurses should be able to go home after their shift is over intact, without being worried about becoming a victim of abuse & violence! As a nurse, you owe it to yourself and your fellow co-workers to take the necessary steps that will ensure all your needs and concerns are addressed. Some steps include: knowing the definition of workplace violence, taking care of yourself if you are assaulted by a patient, or if you are a witness to a violent act. Discuss and debrief the incident with nursing leadership and administration, and use your facility’s incident reporting system to document the violent act and any injuries that you may have sustained. And finally, if you are able to, file charges against those who harmed you.

Violence Against Nurses: The New EpidemicLink to our course on Violence Against Nurses: The New Epidemic