Chicago Area Hospital Nurses: Workplace Violence Isn’t Routinely Reported, Tracked

One informal workplace violence survey found that one in three nurses were kicked or hit.
Published: December 16, 2017

An investigative report conducted by a Chicago television station has found that hospitals in the city aren’t regularly tracking workplace violence against nurses or sharing the information with the public. Nurses also tell WGN9 that there aren’t sufficient safety measures in place to protect them at the hospitals where they work.

The investigation was prompted by two hostage situations that happened at different hospitals in the Chicago suburbs this summer. In one case, a forensic patient was killed by SWAT team member after taking two nurses hostage inside Delnor Hospital. Before the inmate died, he raped and tortured one of the nurses he was holding captive.

Federal law and Illinois law require hospitals keep track of incidents, but, according to WBN9, usually that information isn’t shared with the public. Additionally, some cases aren’t recorded when the victims aren’t physically injured.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has found that on the national level in 2013, the number of assaults involving days away from work were as many as 12 times greater in healthcare and social assistance facilities than in the private sector as a whole. Additionally, between 1993 and 2009, healthcare workers had a 20 percent overall higher rate of workplace violence than all other workers, and workplace violence in medical occupations accounted for more than 10% of all workplace violence incidents.

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At the University of Chicago Medical Center, operating room nurse Dawn Peckler took her own informal survey and found that one in three nurses there said they were kicked or hit on the job, while four percent said they were sexually assaulted.

The nurses interviewed for the investigation claim that their reports of incidents aren’t being taken seriously, both by the hospitals and police.

The hospitals who responded to interview requests told WGN9 that they take workplace violence very seriously and outlined many of the steps they’ve taken to address the issue.

“We want to make sure that we have initiatives in place not only to preserve the safety of the environment but to de-escalate situations before they become violent,” says A.J. Wilhelmi, President and CEO of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association.

Peckler claims, however, that the incidents aren’t acknowledged by hospital administration because it will hurt the hospitals’ images.

Photo: Thinkstock

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