56% of ER Nurses Experienced Workplace Violence in the Last 30 Days

Hospitals are supposed to be safe spaces. Unfortunately, violence and abuse against healthcare workers has become all too common. Now, a recent survey from the Emergency Nurses Association highlights how shockingly widespread workplace violence is in the ER.

In a poll of 500 ENA members from across the country, 56% reported suffering physical violence or verbal abuse within the last 30 days. In addition to being threatened by patients and visitors, emergency room nurses “described being head-butted, kicked, slapped, punched, stabbed with a pencil or hit with thrown objects, among other types of aggression.”

On top of the obvious safety concerns to America’s frontline healthcare workers, violence plays an intensely negative role in workplace satisfaction, burnout, and attrition. In fact, nearly 10% of the emergency nurses surveyed said they were considering leaving nursing because of ongoing workplace violence. While nurses cited important strategies and programs their workplaces were rolling out to help protect them, many respondents lamented that physical and verbal attacks are “part of the job.”

Needless to say, every workplace—especially hospitals and healthcare settings—should be safe, welcoming, and free of abuse.

This alarming trend underscores why Congress must pass the Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) Act H.R. 2584/S. 2768). The bipartisan bill is intended to protect hospitals employees from violence and intimidation in their workplace by enhancing penalties for assaulting hospital employees or contractors, similar to other federal protections for frontline employees like airline attendants who have also experienced a startling spike in violent incidence.

The SAVE Act would also boost the capacity of hospitals to enhance security systems and procedures and more effectively coordinate with law enforcement by establishing a grant program. Recognizing this growing problem, the Healthcare Workforce Coalition fully supports the SAVE Act and is engaging with Members of Congress to ensure these enhanced protections for America’s healthcare workers are signed into law.