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Growing concern over violence in health care settings

Thousands of Colorado residents work as healthcare professionals in a hospital, clinic or nursing home setting. For these women and men, chief concerns typically center on taking care of and ensuring for the proper care of patients. Few health care professionals likely realize, however, the inherent and numerous dangerous that accompany working in a hospital or health care setting.

Recent statistics provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration report a nearly seven percent injury and illness rate among health care workers. Frequently, these job-related injuries result from interactions with patients.

Nurses and nursing aides often suffer back and other types of injuries while assisting or moving patients. These types of injuries are often chronic in nature and may result in a health care worker claiming temporary or permanent disability.

As a recent OSHA investigation uncovered, another troubling cause of injuries among health care professionals stems from acts of workplace violence. Recently, at just one hospital, OSHA investigators cited 40 separate incidents in which health care workers were the victims of, and suffered injuries as a result of, workplace violence. In one incident, a nurse suffered permanent brain damage after being knocked to the ground and repeatedly kicked by a patient.

Despite being in a hospital setting where they are presumably being taken care of, patients, and in some cases their family members, are increasingly being cited for carrying out attacks and other violent actions against health care workers.

Like all employers, hospitals and other health care and nursing facilities have a duty to protect their employers. This includes being proactive and establishing policies and measures to protect workers from acts of violence.

Source: Modern Healthcare, "OSHA fines New York hospital over workplace violence," Bob Herman, Aug. 12, 2014

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