Physical, verbal abuse remain issues for nurses: survey

November 16, 2011

Des Plaines, IL – The rates of violence and verbal abuse against nurses remained stable between May 2009 and January 2011, according to a survey (.pdf file) conducted by the Emergency Nurses Association.

In an ongoing survey of 7,000 emergency department nurses, about 13 percent reported experiencing physical violence and 53.4 percent reported experiencing verbal abuse between January 2010 and January 2011. The previous 12-month period saw percentages of 11 percent and 54 percent, respectively.

Almost half of the physical abuse cases involved being grabbed or pulled, while the most common forms of verbal abuse were yelling and swearing, ENA said. Patients were the perpetrators in the majority of incidents, with violence often occurring in patients' rooms.

Survey results indicated that lower verbal abuse rates were linked with EDs that had locked entries, enclosed nurses’ stations, call code pseudonyms, security signs and well-lit areas. In addition, violence occurred less frequently in EDs with panic buttons, according to the results.