- A quarter of the nurses (25%) experienced weekly events, 27% monthly events and 25% one event every six months. The remainder had not experienced any violence.
- Incidents were highest in the emergency department, where staff reported an average of 46 incidents over the previous year, and in mental health, where the average was 40 incidents. The lowest incidents were reported by midwives (an average of two incidents each) and surgical staff and paediatric staff (an average of four incidents each).
- 40% of staff had been involved in an incident with a weapon and 3% said it was a weekly occurrence.
- Weapons included guns (6%), knives (3%) and hospital equipment (32%). Weapon-related incidents were more common in the emergency department (weekly) and mental health (monthly).
- Despite experiencing more problems, nurses working in the emergency department were much less likely to report any incidents (42%) than staff in other areas (76%).
- Half of all the nurses (50%) said they had reported an incident verbally - to their immediate manager (29%), other senior nursing staff (14.5%) and/or to their friends or colleagues (6%).
- But only 16% of incidents were officially reported. 30% did not report incidents because they felt workplace violence was part of the job and 50% said that when they had reported an event, senior managers had failed to take action.
- However 70% said they would report an incident if they or a colleague were injured or there was a chance they would be laying charges or making a claim for compensation.
"The nurses in our study were reluctant to report episodes of workplace violence unless they considered the event to be serious," says Dr Chapman. "This finding was supported by a retrospective audit of the hospital's formal incident reports, which showed that 96% of the reporting nurses had received one or more injuries as the result of a violent incident in the workplace. "Understanding why nurses do or do not report incidents is very important as it can help educators and administrators to develop programmes that help to reduce workplace violence. Further research on how individuals adapt to violence in the workplace is also warranted."