Long ER Waits May Be Tied To Rise In Violence Toward Missouri Hospital Nurses


By Gabrielle Masson

Springfield, Mo.-based CoxHealth is experiencing an uptick in assaults against nurses, particularly in the emergency department.

Some nurses are verbally assaulted daily while working, said Natalie Higgins, RN, an emergency room nurse at CoxHealth. Over the past year, the assaults against nurses have only gotten worse, sometimes turning physical, according to Ms. Higgins. She speculated that long ER wait times play a role in the increase.

In 2018, CoxHealth recorded 3,248 total workplace violence events, said a system spokesperson. In 2019, that number rose to 3,860 and hit 4,058 in 2020. The system has reported 1,922 events this year.

Eighty percent of the assaults are from patients, said Steve Edwards, president and CEO for CoxHealth.

CoxHealth ER nurse Becky Fleming, RN, said staff undergo de-escalation and safety training each year.

The system has installed panic buttons on nurse ID badges and has two trained dogs used to de-escalate situations.


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