Healthcare workers are five times as likely to experience workplace violence as other workers, according to government data. In a National Nurses United survey in 2022, 40% of hospital nurses said they’d seen an increase in violent incidents. Karen Coughlin, chair of the Massachusetts Nurses Association’s workplace violence and abuse prevention task force, joins John Yang to discuss.
ONS Perspective: “Over my career, I had well over 100 incidents of workplace violence. I was bit, kicked, punched, spit at, and had weapons tried to use be used against me. This is not something that’s new. And I’m not the only nurse who has experienced this. And something needs to be done because our employers are not keeping us safe, the patient safe, the staff safe, anyone safe.”
Whether verbal or physical, if you’ve been a victim of violence as a nurse, you’re not alone. RN Karen Coughlin’s story paints a powerful picture of the grim realities that nurses and other healthcare professionals face on the frontlines of patient care. Oncology nurses may feel hesitant to report violence from patients whose disease-related factors may be contributing, such as brain metastases, or psychosocial impacts related to the diagnosis or prognosis. Regardless of its cause, however, nurses should never accept it violence as okay. Having the courage to speak out about those experiences is one of the strongest forms of advocacy—it raises awareness to leaders at all levels, from institutions to legislators, and it engages the public for even more support. Learn how to tell your story and advocate for change.