August 10, 2012
More than 13 Percent of Healthcare Workplace Injuries Result from Patient Aggression
Augusta—In 2011, more than 1,300 workers in healthcare or rehabilitation settings were hurt on the job by a patient or client, a report issued this week by the Research and Statistics Unit of the Maine Department of Labor indicates. Aggressive acts that resulted in worker injuries include hitting, biting and kicking; workers also sustained injuries while trying to restrain a patient or client.
The Research and Statistics Unit, part of the Bureau of Labor Standards, compiled the data from the First Reports of Injury of the Workers’ Compensation Board 2011 database.
Research regarding violent or aggressive actions by recipients of mental health care, residential care, health care and social assistance and disability rehabilitation services found that a significant number of violent or aggressive acts target caregivers and social assistance providers.
In 2011, about 100,000 people in Maine were employed in the healthcare occupations covered in this report, and 9,965 cases related to those occupations were filed with the Maine’s Workers’ Compensation Board. A review of those cases identified that 13.4 percent included injuries caused by violent/aggressive actions of care and social-assistance recipients. These recipients included mental healthcare, substance abuse and general healthcare patients as well as residential clients, disability rehabilitation students and others.
The report reviews such case factors as the numbers of incidents per organizational setting, the occupations of the injured and the types and prevalence of injuries. It also provides an overview of information provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control regarding specific risk factors of workplace violence and strategies for preventing violent incidents.
Due to the high number of bite incidents, a specific section focuses on bite injuries and references information from the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ 2009 Clinical Guidelines regarding viral and bacterial exposures. Bites are of special concern because infections can result if the skin is broken.
“So many of us know someone working in the healthcare field who may deal often with stressed and hurting people,” said Commissioner of Labor Robert Winglass. “This report includes recommendations that may help employees calm a patient in a stressful situation and stay safer when threatened.”
The Research and Statistics Unit manages and analyzes data on workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses and issues summary reports that help employers identify areas for improvements in safety and health protection. Their reports, including this most recent report, are located on the Department of Labor’s website at www.maine.gov/labor/labor_stats/research.html .
The mission of the Department of Labor is to serve Maine workers and businesses by providing assistance and retraining when jobs are lost; helping people prepare for and find jobs; protecting workers and researching and analyzing employment data to support job growth.
Note: This report, Maine’s Caregivers, Social Assistance and Disability Rehabilitation Workers Injured by Violence and Aggression in the Workplace in 2011, is available as both a .pdf and Word file under “Other Reports” at www.maine.gov/labor/labor_stats/research.html . All the graphs and charts in the report may be reprinted. Please contact the Department of Labor if you are interested in using any of the photographs in the report.