Violence is not part of the job
National Nursing Week a platform to discuss this very serious problem
Twelve stitches, a tetanus shot, pain medication and an icepack to keep the swelling and bruising to a minimum.
Sounds like a typical day in the emergency department of any Nova Scotia hospital. The only difference is the patient is a nurse. Not a hockey player, not a slip and fall victim, but a nurse who’s been assaulted by her patient.
Nurses are among the most likely professionals to become victims of workplace violence. Each year on average, about 1,000 Canadian nurses are hurt severely enough to miss work. That’s more than police and firefighters combined.
The Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union (NSNU) is sharing this because being kicked, punched, spit on or pinched is a daily event for nurses in Nova Scotia, and it needs to stop.
Sadly, the statistics are likely far worse as nurses seldom report incidents of abuse. There is a prevailing sentiment among nurses that violence, outbursts, physical and verbal harassment are just part of the job. It’s a notion that the NSNU and our provincial counterparts have been working for decades to dispel.
Across Canada nurse unions have been working to make tangible changes in acute, long-term and community care to protect nurses. To that end, I’m involved in committee work to improve conditions in community emergency departments, as well as in long-term care, where the rates of violence are significantly higher. Progress has been made within these committees, but it’s not enough. Employers, workers, and the public must work together to ensure safer work environments.
It’s up to all Nova Scotians to be compassionate and understanding when we enter health facilities. We must ensure that those who are providing care for our loved ones are able to do it safely and without the fear of violence.
The NSNU is using National Nursing Week as a platform to talk about this very serious problem.
“Each year on average, about 1,000 Canadian nurses are hurt severely enough to miss work.”
This National Nursing Week, May 8-14, let’s work together to make health facilities safer for those who provide care. Let’s be vigilant. Let’s end violence in the workplace.