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Workplace Violence in Nursing: Dangerous & Underreported

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care and social service workers are 5x as likely to suffer a workplace violence injury than workers overall. 1 in 4 nurses reported being physically assaulted according to a 2019 ANA Survey.

Workplace violence is underreported. These already alarming rates of workplace violence may be much higher. The unknown reality of the situation makes prevention efforts stall.

Hazardous situations impair effective patient care. Unsafe workplaces also cause nurses to have psychological distress, job dissatisfaction, and absenteeism. All leading to high turnover and costs.

New Workplace Violence Safety Standards

The Joint Commission, who accredits and certifies more than 22,000 health care organizations and programs,  introduced new workplace violence prevention requirements for hospitals, effective January 1, 2022.

The new requirements for effective workplace violence prevention systems address:

  • What is workplace violence
  • A workplace violence prevention program
  • Policies and procedures
  • Leadership oversight
  • Reporting systems
  • Data collection
  • Post-incidence strategies
  • Training and education

The Joint Commission also created a compendium of resources from key stakeholders such as the American Nurses Association. These resources help organizations develop, implement and evaluate their workplace violence prevention program to comply with the new and revised requirements.

What can you do?


  • Ensure your organization complies with The Joint Commission safety standard in a meaningful way
  • Ask if nurses are involved in the development of a plan for upcoming inspections
  • Increase awareness by talking to your colleagues, staff, and leaders about workplace violence
  • Ask about and provide input to the design of education and training and the measurement of progress


  • Know you have a right to your own safety
  • Encourage reporting by colleagues and/or witnessed events
  • Use your institution’s current reporting system, and share any concerns about ease of use and meaningful follow up
  • When necessary, consider reporting incidents to OSHA or The Joint Commission


  • Visit RN Action to advocate for federal action to address workplace violence in all settings
  • Learn about and support legislative efforts at your state association
  • Demonstrate a commitment to workplace violence prevention as part of your culture of safety


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