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Recent shooting highlights the risk of workplace violence

Nurses face a much higher rate of workplace violence than other workers. The recent shooting at a Colorado Springs hospital recently highlighted this fact. Thankfully, no nurses or other staff were injured.

According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, there was only one metal detector at the hospital where the shooting took place. It stood at the entrance to the emergency room. The hospital spokesman said the shooter could have easily brought the gun into the building through any of the other unprotected entrances.

Nurses are among those most likely to suffer

While gun violence stands among the scariest threats nurses may face, they face other forms of workplace violence far more often. The most recent data from OSHA shows that hitting, kicking, beating and shoving accounted for roughly half of all the violent injuries that forced nurses to miss any days of work. The OSHA report also offered some other troubling facts, including:

· Nurses were four times more likely than other workers to face workplace violence

· Twenty-one percent of registered nurses and nursing students reported physical abuse

· Patients committed 80% of all workplace violence against nurses-some unintentionally

· Nurses chose not to report roughly 30% of all physical and non-physical assaults

All this violence carries a high cost. As OSHA notes the stress that nurses endure may lead to medication errors and other mistakes. It may cause nurses to leave the profession earlier, leading to a lower quality of service as less experienced nurses take over. And the hospitals need to cover the workers’ compensation claims for the injuries, their treatment and the days that nurses miss because of them.

Nurses deserve better protection

Nurses, EMTs and the other healthcare professionals working on the frontlines have a right to a safe work environment-just like all other American workers. OSHA and other government agencies recognize this fact but haven’t always agreed on how best to fix things. For now, nurses who suffer from workplace violence can do their part by reporting and taking care of their injuries.