CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A new reporting system for workplace violence has been rolled out for South Carolina hospitals. The goal is to get a better understanding of where assaults are happening and find solutions.
Medical experts say assaults on health care workers are going up. According to a national Press Ganey survey of 483 facilities, 5,217 nurses were assaulted from April 1 to June 30, 2022. That’s two nurses being assaulted every hour, according to the study.
"We’ve all been punched, kicked, spit, I have had a lanyard pulled around my neck where someone tried to grab me in the emergency room,” Kelly Bouthillet, president of the South Carolina Nurses Association, shared.
Bouthillet told WCNC Charlotte that all types of care centers are seeing an increase in violence since the start of the pandemic.
The American Hospital Association says 44% of nurses reported experiencing workplace violence and 68% reported experiencing verbal abuse during the pandemic.
"It is very unnerving," Bouthillet added. "It is causing people to leave the profession because the employers either can’t or aren’t addressing it enough.”
That’s why the South Carolina Hospital Association has partnered with Antum Risk to create a new reporting system that will help gather more accurate, up-to-date information on how often and where hospital violence is happening.
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Vice president of workforce and member engagement at SCHA, Lara Hewitt, said there is no entity in the Palmetto State that collects data on hospital assaults. So, this new project is changing that.
Hewitt said they’ll pull data twice a year to analyze it. Then, SCHA will work with hospitals to implement better protection and prevention measures.
“We really do hope it will kind of springboard to a lot of best practices and a lot of enhanced hopefully communication and coordination with law enforcement partners," Hewitt said.
Bouthillet said she hopes the data will lead to the standardization of assault reporting procedures for health care facilities.
Both SCNA and SCHA are pushing for federal legislation that would increase penalties for assaulting a health care worker.
There have been efforts on the state level in the South Carolina General Assembly to pass protections for health care workers but the bills have failed each time.
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