Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Victimizing Health Care Workers

"We had no idea of the magnitude of the problem or  how serious it was. We actually ended up being quite disturbed."
"It is very hard to ignore the parallels of gender and violence against women in our society with what we were hearing. It mimicked in so many ways the way domestic violence has been treated."
"We do not believe in workplaces that employ mostly women that health and safety is being given the same priority that it is in industrial facilities that employ mostly men."
"There were terrible physical traumas, people whose lives have been changed forever, people with post-concussion syndrome, people whose faces had been smashed and they now are disfigured."
"We spoke to a nurse who had — all in separate incidents — a fractured leg, a fractured arm, a deep bite wound, a stab wound. And these were not unusual stories."
"Somehow people have been told in a lot of ways that they are to expect this sort of treatment. But what I see, looking at it in a broader way, is it’s very similar to what’s coming out now in Hollywood, that there’s this culture of silence and shame."
"One of the things that came out is they [workers reporting abuse] received so little support. It was really different from one community to another, one facility to another. There were some people who said they had had very sympathetic supervisors who helped to support them through that difficult post-incident period, but I would say the majority felt that they got no support and, in fact, it was the opposite."
Margaret Keith, occupational and environmental health researcher, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario

“Even when the incidents were reported, there was very little action taken to remediate the situation to prevent it from happening again."
"It’s a barometer of what is going on in the health-care system. And if we don’t want our mothers and fathers and our neighbours and ourselves being treated that way, then I think we really have to be seriously thinking about what the culture is that all that occurs in."
"In some of the facilities, it's a daily occurrence: women being grabbed, verbal harassment. It is hard to imagine having done this study that one could ignore the role of gender in this story."
"It's one of the reasons that this issue has been kept out of the public view because the victims are not allowed to speak, which is another parallel, I think, to violence against women."
Jim Brophy, occupational and environmental health researcher, University of Windsor
The study looked at 54 hospital workers across Ontario, according to Jim Brophy,  who co-authored the report, Assaulted and Unheard: Violence against Health-care Staff.
The study looked at 54 hospital workers across Ontario, according to Jim Brophy, who co-authored the report, Assaulted and Unheard: Violence against Health-care Staff.    CBC

Two researchers have produced a study, entitled Assaulted and Unheard: Violence Against Healthcare Staff, which sets out the impressions they gained from interviewing health-care workers across Ontario, with a focus on workplace violence in health-care settings. Their study was published in the Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy. In their interviews about the research they conducted and those whom they interviewed, they point out that this is a topic that is seldom addressed because it is quite simply ignored, although the fallout is serious and health-care workers are in a state of perpetual concern and distress.

The two university researchers, James Brophy and Margaret Keith, both with the University of Windsor, both occupational and health researchers, were aided by the work of Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, part of the research team. They reached the conclusion that vastly under-reported violence perpetrated upon health staff workers in Ontario is ubiquitous and although a primary concern to the workers, is concealed from public awareness reflecting a culture of silence in the health-care field.

All of the 54 health-care workers who were interviewed had witnessed violent events borne by health workers. Only one among them had not personally had similar experiences when they too were victims of violence. This was reflected in the results of another survey which concluded that 68 percent of health workers in Ontario spoke of having experienced violence in the year past, and for some of those workers not merely one occasion but on multiple occasions. It is worth considering whether the rise in opioid-related use causing health emergencies has had some impact in this respect.

Some of those whom the researchers interviewed spoke of having had teeth knocked out, their faces smashed, and having suffered concussions along with other serious injuries leaving them in a state of debilitation and traumatization. Many others described having been sexually assaulted, and though they may have reported these episodes of shocking violence, their complaints were brushed aside by superiors informing them that what they had experienced was simply to be regarded as part of the job they had committed to.

The impression overall that the three researchers gained through these interviews was that health workers are fearful of speaking about the issue, let alone reporting them in many instances. And as a result of that lapse of reporting because the victims know their concerns will not be taken seriously let alone expecting that anything might be done to remediate the situation, the problem remains unacknowledged. For speaking up about violence against nurses while at a conference, a nurse working in North Bay was fired.

The conclusion reached by the researchers was that an increase of resources could assist in reducing violence against  health workers, making a link between staffing cuts and a rise in such events, where the health-provision workplace has become a toxic environment for workers, dangerous to their physical and psychological well-being. Earlier in the year a clerk in a Smiths Falls hospital had been stabbed by a patient using scissors he snatched from a desk. The simple enough expedient of having a Plexiglas barrier would have avoided this attack.

Researchers conducted focus-group interviews with more than 50 hospital staff members who had experienced verbal, physical or sexual assault, mostly perpetrated by patients.  CTVNews

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