Workplace violence is a significant occupational hazard in health care. As the largest group of employees in health care, nurses are particularly vulnerable to workplace violence, with those who work in emergency departments being especially at risk. The purpose of this research was to study the phenomenon of workplace violence by interviewing emergency nurses who had experienced violence while on duty.
A descriptive study approached the issue of workplace violence from the perspective of 8 registered nurses from 2 level I trauma centers who volunteered to be interviewed. Cross-case comparison of the interview responses was used to analyze the data from verbatim transcripts.
Emergency nurses identified specific experiences of violence at work. Inadequate safety measures and vulnerability were the 2 themes that were consistently verbalized through out the interviews.
Implications for Nursing Practice
The emergency nurses who were interviewed discussed their experiences with patients, family members, and others who exhibited violent and aggressive behavior. They identified safety measures that they believed were inadequate and discussed their feelings of vulnerability because of violent incidents at work. Further research with larger samples could confirm specific safety problems in emergency departments that must be addressed to provide a safer workplace for emergency nurses, their colleagues, and their patients.
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Martha Catlette is Vice-President of Research and Development, Mid Delta Health Systems, Belzoni, Miss.
© 2005 Emergency Nurses Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.