Assaults on Nurses Increased 5% in 2023

Nurses’ perceptions of their organization caring about their safety improved significantly, up +0.03 to 4.15 out of five.

Assaults on Nurses Increased 5% in 2023

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Reported assaults against nurses increased 5% across the United States in 2023, according to a new report.

“Safety in healthcare 2024,” a report released last week by Press Ganey, a company that analyzes healthcare data and surveys patients and employees, shows the rate of reported assaults climbed from 2.59 per 100 nursing personnel in 2022 to 2.71 last year, amounting to nearly 17,000 assaults — a record high. Most reported events occurred in psychiatric units, followed by the emergency department, adult, pediatric, and lastly, perioperative units.

While the findings are concerning, the rise may be partly due to an overall willingness to report assaults as the industry increasingly focuses on workplace safety culture and awareness, the report says. Employee perceptions of their organization caring about their safety improved significantly, up +0.03 to 4.15 out of five.

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, nurse and physician groups are currently pushing for two bills, introduced last year, that would address healthcare workplace violence. Senate Bill 1176, sponsored by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), would require the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a workplace violence prevention standard, mandating that hospitals develop prevention plans. The second bill, the Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees Act (S 2768), would increase penalties for assaults on healthcare workers.

“The tide is turning, inspiring optimism across healthcare. However, while many measures of safety have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, 2019 was never the gold standard for safety. Even before COVID, patient safety was a public health issue, with a dire need for improvement,” the report says. “But viewing safety holistically—that is, through a lens of both patient and employee experience, and how it’s all intertwined—and implementing high-reliability practices will propel healthcare toward its ultimate goal: zero harm.”

Assaults on Nurses Linked to 13% of Missed Work Days

Other recent studies have emphasized the need to continue advocating for workplace violence prevention initiatives as the healthcare staffing crisis continues.

A nationwide survey conducted last year by National Nurses United (NNU), the nation’s largest union and professional association of registered nurses, found eight in 10 nurses (81.6%) had experienced at least one type of violent incident at their place of employment within the previous year. According to a statement by the union, the findings “shows that health care employers’ failure to implement effective prevention strategies is exacerbating the staffing crisis: six in ten RNs report having changed or left their job or profession or considered leaving their job due to workplace violence.”

The survey also found only 62.8% of nurses’ employers provide training on workplace violence prevention, and only 17% of employers place additional staff to reduce the risk of incidents.

“When employers fail to safely staff units, it increases the risk of workplace violence due to increased wait times, unmet patient needs, and increased stress and moral distress of health care staff,” the union wrote. “In NNU’s surveys and focus groups, nurses regularly noted the role that short staffing plays in increasing the risk of workplace violence.”

The American Nurses Association previously reported that 13% of missed work days by nurses are due to workplace violence.

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About the Author

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Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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