Minnesota residents tend to pursue nursing careers to help and heal others, but the reality of their jobs often exposes them to angry and violent patients and visitors. The career nurse who co-founded the nonprofit organization Stop Healthcare Violence has devoted her efforts to raising awareness of the injuries suffered by health care workers. She said that medical staff experience attacks such as being groped, spit on, bitten or assaulted with weapons. During her career, a patient punched her in the face.
Data collected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration showed that people employed in health care settings experience workplace violence on a scale that approaches all of the violent injuries suffered by workers in all other occupations combined. Between 2011 and 2013, every year produced about 15,000 to 20,000 injuries among medical staff. Many facilities, such as an emergency room, allow anyone to enter, and patients include violent criminals, the mentally ill and addicts.
According to an OSHA report, workplaces do not report all violent incidents. Some victims choose not to file a police report because they feel ethically compelled not to harm patients. A representative from one nurses’ association said that management typically frowns on workers filing complaints about attacks.
When health care workers are injured on the job, reports need to be filed with employers so that the victims can apply for workers’ compensation benefits. There are strict time periods that cover the filing of a claim, and thus people who have been harmed in this manner may want to have the assistance of an experienced lawyer throughout the process.