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Over 1 million work-related injuries of healthcare workers required treatment in ER 2015-2017, finds NIOSH

NIOSH study authors: Imani Carey and Kitty Hendricks — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently published a report on workplace violence in the healthcare industry in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

What did this study find?

Workplace violence continues to be a serious problem in the healthcare industry. From 2015 to 2017, more than 1 million work-related injuries among healthcare workers required treatment in the emergency department. Nearly one in seven of these injuries resulted from intentional violence by another person. By body part, the head and face were most likely to be injured, followed by the arm, wrist, and hand.

In other findings, differences in risk emerged by gender and age. Although more than half of injuries resulting from violence by patients occurred among women, the rate of injury from workplace violence for men was more than double the rate for women. Yet, more women work in the healthcare industry. Younger healthcare workers also had a higher rate of injury than those older than 25 years. Nearly one third of patient-caused, intentional injuries occurred among 25- to 34-year-olds.

How did you do the study?

We identified violence-related workplace injuries treated from 2015 to 2017 using the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System–Occupational Supplement, a NIOSH surveillance system of nonfatal, work-related injuries treated in emergency departments. We then calculated the risk of violence-related injury by gender and age.

Why is this study important?

Workplace violence harms both healthcare workers and patient care. Compared with workers in other industries, healthcare workers are more likely to suffer an injury at work resulting from violence. In fact, most of the violence-related, nonfatal workplace injuries in 2018 occurred among healthcare workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What are the next steps?

Additional research aimed at understanding its underlying causes is critical to preventing workplace violence and protecting healthcare workers.

Access the abstract and full version of “Workplace violence against healthcare workers using nationally representative estimates of emergency department data, 2015–2017” online.