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On average, two nurses are assaulted every hour, finds Press Ganey

Press Ganey logo; analysis shows 2+ nurses are assaulted every hour

According to Q2 2022 statistics from Press Ganey, a leader in patient, member, employee and consumer experience across the healthcare ecosystem, more than two nurses are assaulted every hour. That equates to roughly 57 assaults per day, 1,739 assaults per month and 5,217 assaults per quarter.

Nurses take an oath to do no harm, and many put their own safety and health at risk to help a patient. However, violence should not be considered just “part of the job.” What’s especially concerning about these numbers is that they are likely even higher, as assaults generally go underreported by healthcare professionals and nurses in particular.

Jeff Doucette, DNP, R.N., NEA-BC, FACHE, FAAN, chief nursing officer, Press Ganey

Press Ganey’s National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI) also unveiled staggering statistics, such as:

  • The highest number of assaults occurred in psychiatric units, emergency departments and, surprisingly, pediatric units such as pediatric burn, pediatric rehabilitation and pediatric surgery.
  • Obstetrics and neonatal intensive care units have the lowest number of nurse assaults reported.
  • The majority of assailants are patients. While patients are the largest source of violence, family members, co-workers, visitors and intruders also perpetrate violence.
  • The majority of assailants are male. An exception is in pediatric units and rehab units, where females are more likely than males to perpetrate violence.
  • Psych units and rehab units have the largest percentage of assaults resulting in moderate or severe injuries.

Violence toward nurses has reached an alarming rate, nearing, if not already, an epidemic. We are calling on all healthcare leaders to declare zero tolerance for hostility toward healthcare workers, improve caregiver well-being and advance our shared commitment to zero harm. Nurses deserve to be protected and feel safe while caring for people in their most vulnerable state.

Jeff Doucette, DNP, R.N., NEA-BC, FACHE, FAAN

Here are steps that healthcare organizations can take to mitigate violence against nurses:

  • Implement reporting systems for record-keeping and safety and well-being program evaluation;
  • Ensure caregiver safety is a core value, and set the expectation that violence on the job is neither expected nor accepted;
  • Enact formal policies and procedures for risk identification, hazard prevention and control, standard response plans and post-incident support; and
  • Implement training and education programs that teach warning signs, de-escalation techniques, progressive behavior control, emergency management, and communication and teamwork.

For more exclusive research and best practices for prioritizing nurse safety, visit Press Ganey.

See also these articles for guidance on creating safer healthcare environments for nurses and other hospital staff: