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Workplace violence: All-too-common danger for nurses

Nurses from Newburgh to Napa — and everywhere in between — share concerns about safety in the workplace. For many nurses, workplace violence is a regular part of their workdays; a frightening reality that they must deal with every time they report for duty in emergency rooms and other parts of hospitals.

"Not a shift goes by that we’re not exposed to workplace violence," an intensive care nurse recently said, adding that she has had to have four major surgeries as a result of injuries sustained in patient assaults.

The Minneapolis nurse was one of hundreds who recently took part in a 7-day strike to improve working conditions that, they say, make life in the health care industry unnecessarily difficult and dangerous.

"This is the type of thing that happens in all hospitals around the country," one nurse said.

One ER nurse said that she and her co-workers must deal with violent patients and families "every shift."

They complain that hospitals are reluctant or unwilling to provide needed security staff stationed in the ER. Instead, the nurses rely on each other, emergency medical technicians and sometimes a hospital security officer, if she or he "happens to be in the (area)."

One nurse told the story of a traumatic brain injury she suffered when a patient kicked in her in the right temple.

Workers who have sustained on-the-job injuries due to violence in the workplace by either co-workers or members of the public are typically eligible for workers' compensation benefits. If those benefits are denied by an insurer or employer, appeal is possible with the assistance of a workers' comp attorney.


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