Escalating hospital violence threatens safety, heightens stress levels for medical employees

Qualified Medical Evaluator San Diego

California hospital wards have become increasingly dangerous for nurses and medical employees.

By Dr. Stephen Pfeiffer, Ph.D.

Most members of the California workforce are aware that, when it comes to professions like firefighting or law enforcement, employees are required to accept significant violence and danger risk as a routine part of the job. However, a recent upsurge in state-wide hospital violence has brought the definition of “routine risk” as it pertains to the healthcare field under scrutiny. According to the Los Angeles Times, violence against nurses and other hospital workers is increasingly common; and because employee expectations remain unclear regarding the normalcy of violent patient outbursts, revised preparation, warning and workers compensation measures are becoming necessary in order to adequately address the stress and anxiety to which more and more hospital workers are being exposed on a daily basis.

California Healthline reports that, according to industry data, hospital workers and security staffers are most likely to experience patient-instigated violence in either emergency departments or psychiatric wards. As of 2007, nearly 40% of emergency department workers suffered violent assault at the hands of hospital patients; and despite increasing instances of such attacks and state-wide stipulations requiring hospital employees to report “significant injuries” to government officials, clarification as to what qualifies as a “significant” incident is neither clear nor fully outlined to medical workers in California hospitals.

Some sources suggest that insufficient record keeping and unclear workplace expectations make it difficult for hospital administrators to determine the root cause of increased patient violence – and for employees to subsequently understand the difference between appropriate and abnormal workplace risks. Bonnie Castillo, who heads the California Nurses Association, cites another factor in the rift between hospital reputations and the realities of workplace danger: at many hospitals, nurses and other staff members are actively discouraged from reporting attacks and violence in order to keep the institution’s image as a “safe haven” intact.

Changing times call for updated regulations

Representatives from the California Hospital Association maintain that hospital environments are by and large “very safe,” and equipped with security features to aid in emergency response; but if this is the case, hospital workers cannot be expected to consider the prospect of assault (or the related anxiety, fear and depression that such risk may incur) as a “routine” element of their workday. Based on recent statistics, hospital employment is in fact more dangerous now than it has historically proven to be in the past; and as a result, provisions must be instated not only to address the physical, mental and emotional health of medical professionals, but also to safeguard against fraudulent workers compensation claims that seek to take advantage of imprecise job description protocol.

Until such provisions can be developed and implemented within California hospitals, it is critical that workers compensation attorneys seek out case-specific, unbiased analysis from a Qualified Medical Evaluator. With over three decades of administrative and forensic experience in the field of psychology and a background in industrial and labor relations, my qualifications are ideally suited to the impartial investigation and precise, expert testimony required in the medical-legal decision-making process or in a court of law. By blending an intimate understanding of forensic procedure and psychological evaluation strategy with clear, relatable testimony suitable for lay jurors and legal experts alike, I ensure that workers compensation claims are handled accurately and in accordance with California laws and judicial regulations. To learn more about selecting a Qualified Medical Evaluator, visit

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Posted by Social Media Staff on Aug 16, 2011. Filed under Columns, Sponsored Columns, Stephen M. Pfeiffer, Ph.D.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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