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New Jersey nurses suffer workplace violence in silence

Many Bergen County nurses go to work with the expectation they will encounter both cooperative and uncooperative patients. Aggressive behaviors in some patients can lead to violence, especially in psychiatric facilities and emergency rooms. Nurse injuries caused by violent patients often are dismissed as job hazards rather than workplace accidents or crimes.

A report on job violence among 50 New Jersey hospital emergency departments was compiled from internal and federal reports obtained between 1992 and 2001. The majority of ED nurses interviewed had been verbally abused or threatened, with nearly one-third reporting assaults annually and 12 percent claiming repeated attacks. Seventy-two percent of ED nurses never filed official reports about the incidents.

The statistics may be eye opening to everyone except nurses. New reports say many nurses accept patient violence as part of their work and often aren't trained to prevent or defuse it. Attitudes about health care violence by employer hospitals and law enforcement agencies also fail to support the abused and injured staff members.

Officials with the New Jersey Council of the Emergency Nurses Association admitted violence incidents against nurses were underreported. ENA researchers learned 80 percent of ED department nurses had been trained to look for signs of potential violence, but training for half the nurses didn't come from hospitals. ENA also discovered more than 36 percent of nurses have considered giving up the medical profession due to job violence.

ENA believes that employee training alone is ineffective, unless hospitals respond to violence by developing training programs and no-tolerance measures to support nurses. The organization also feels that laws and law enforcement are lacking to protect nurses. ENA believes that violent incidents must reach a level of unacceptability.

Bergen County employees often aren't clear about the rights they have to make claims for benefits or damages following workplace injuries. Attorneys help injured parties receive rightful and full compensation through workers' compensation claims and liability lawsuits.

Source: Nurse.com, "Recent assaults on N.Y. nurses bring healthcare violence back to forefront" Debra Anscombe Wood, Apr. 07, 2014

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