5 Ways to Effectively Deal with Workplace Violence in Nursing
By Jane Anderson,
Whether you hold a position as a floor nurse, home health
nurse or travel nurse your career choice requires a combination of clinical
techniques, book knowledge, and people skills. It’s time to add one more item
to your knowledge base, and that’s how to deal with workplace violence in the
Take your skills on the road with Onward Healthcare!
Aggressiveness has crept into just about every aspect of
society, and unfortunately, it is often nurses who must deal with the fallout.
According to Jennifer Flynn, CPHRM, risk manager at Nurses Service Organization, “Nurses are
at increased risk for experiencing workplace violence due to their close
contact with patients, as well as working in an occupational environment marked
by stressed and burnout.”
Catherine Burger, BSN, MSOL, RN, NEA-BC from www.registerednursing.org,
emphasizes that “training is the best way to mitigate workplace violence for
nurses.” To help you get a head start in violence prevention, we have gathered
these five tips from nursing experts.
Identify the types of
workplace violence in nursing
Burger further explains that nurses may experience
physical alterations with patients and even psychological lateral violence from
colleagues or leaders.
Whether it’s from drugs, pain or psychological
disturbances, patients often lash out, and as Flynn pointed out earlier, nurses
are most at risk. Attempting to provide care or perform a simple procedure can
result in injuries from an out-of-control patient.
Additionally, some patients routinely treat nurses with a
lack of respect that borders upon harassment, whether sexual or emotional.
These individuals may embrace violence as part of their daily lives, and nurses
must always be on their guard. Mind SquadHR’s CEO Sheri Mooney,
Esq., says, “We urge nursing staff and other healthcare providers to trust
their instincts when assessing a situation. Mindfulness is critical for this
To perform to the best of their ability, nurses should
feel comfortable with management and coworkers. Unfortunately, this may not
always be the case, and it is even more regrettable that nurses sometimes
remain silent about episodes of workplace violence in nursing.
Set immediate boundaries
Stop problems before they start by letting patients
know as soon as they have crossed a line. Jennifer tells nurses to communicate
immediately to patients that their comments and actions are unwanted. She also
suggests you document the situation and any conversation, verbatim, if
possible. Remember to set a good example yourself by treating your coworkers
with respect in front of patients.
Learn diffusing techniques
Proper training in environmental interventions can
prevent a small incident from escalating into a full-fledged problem. Tom
Syzek, MD, FACEP, is the Vice President of e-Learning Services at TheSullivan Group, and he offers the following suggestions on how to
deal with a pressure-filled situation.
- Stay at eye level with the patient but avoid
direct eye contact.
- Use verbal reassurance.
- Avoid pointing a finger or making a fist.
- Give short, assertive, nonthreatening
- Give the patient something to do.
- Show compassion.
Take positive action
Don’t wait for a problem to occur. Get some advice
through YouTube’sinformative nursing videos, look for seminars either through CE
credits or HR programs and then plan how you’ll react if you're faced with an
angry patient or experience unwelcome comments from a coworker or supervisor.
NCO's website includes a learning center which has
resources and materials to help you prepare to deal with workplace violence in
nursing. Additionally, OSHA provides access to a set of guidelines that address
workplaceviolence in healthcare.
Report violations promptly
Flynn thinks that “the best defense for nurses starts
with reporting these types of incidents.” Nurses may feel that harassment is
“part of the job” or be worried that a report will reflect poorly on their
performance review. She went on to say that “national reporting found that only
about a third of nurses reported incidents and, in some cases, it was found
that the nurses were so intimidated or demeaned in their environment that it
negatively affected their job performance.”While you might not be able to completely
prevent workplace violence in nursing, a thorough grasp of the above tactics
can help you reduce your chance of becoming a victim and possibly help a