Nurses at a hospital in rural NSW suffered violence from patients regularly, with the authors of the report suggesting the abuse was experienced in most Australian hospitals, the Brisbane Times reports.
A multi-disciplinary team from James Cook University investigating violence against healthcare workers in emergency departments has looked at several hospitals.
Lead author Alycia Jacob said they focused on one unidentified hospital in rural NSW for a qualitative study, because it was a good snapshot of what was happening more broadly.
“Globally violence against healthcare workers is estimated to affect 95 per cent of healthcare workers, and there’s been a number of seminal studies showing nurses are more likely to be aggressively attacked at work than prison guards or police,” Ms Jacob said.
“It may be that some things in this study were context-specific, particularly around the rural location, but we do feel there is a fair amount here that can be generalised to a wider context.”
In interviews with 14 nurses at a 195-bed rural hospital, the researchers were told violence occurred regularly and had a “significant impact” on staff, who “expected” to be abused during shifts.
Ms Jacob stressed that the abuse they were referring to went beyond just shouting to acts of physical assault.
“We are talking about high-level physical acts here,” she said. “If we were talking just about people who verbally abused staff it would be a much bigger conversation.
“Multiple people have told us that if they reported every time they were verbally abused by patients they’d spend their whole day filing reports and not get any work done.”
She said staff had taken to routinely frisking patients who attended, and reported finding makeshift weapons including razor blades.
Patients armed with razors as study finds most nurses are attacked (Brisbane Times)