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Most violent job in Washington? Nurse’s aide

July 12, 2011

The most violent job in Washington state isn’t being a police officer or a security guard. It’s working as a nurse’s aide.

Seattle public radio station KUOW-FM made that finding as part of an investigative series on workplace safety airing this week, as noted in this Seattle Times article. The station found that violence strikes health care workers in Washington at six times the state average, and frontline caregivers in emergency rooms and psychiatric wards get assaulted even more than that.

The single most violent workplace in the state is at Western State Hospital, where criminal defendants are taken when they are found incompetent to stand trial. Workers at psychiatric hospitals are assaulted on the job more often than anybody else – 60 times more than the average worker in Washington state.

How many is that? James Robinson, president of the union for many workers at Western State Hospital, says there were 313 assaults there last year – a drop of nearly 30 percent in assaults per patient-care hour, though union officials also note that many incidents go unreported because of the time required to fill out paperwork about assaults.

Nan Yragui, a psychologist with the Department of Labor and Industries, studies workplace violence. She said budget cuts to the health-care safety net have made emergency rooms nationwide more violence-prone.

“When patients can’t get services they need, they end up going to the emergency department,” she said. “So more of the severely mentally ill are going to the emergency department and then that makes that group of nurses more at risk because they’re getting more exposure.” Read more…

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