Windsor Researchers Detail Violence Against Healthcare Workers

A pair of Windsor researchers who have spent decades studying workplace health and safety have looked at violence against healthcare workers.

Jim Brophy and Margaret Keith worked with Michael Hurley to interview more than 50 hospital workers from all across the province in various jobs.

What they found is disturbing in their report "Assaulted and Unheard."

It charts the unusually high number of assaults against healthcare workers and also how they are reluctant to report those assaults.

The 26 page document also makes more than 30 recommendations of how to address what Brophy calls a crisis.

Keith says the level of attacks against healthcare workers is hard to grasp.

"Because you have people who were being assaulted sometimes very seriously assaulted, experiencing verbal abuse sometimes on a daily basis and also experiencing sexual harassment and even sexual assault." says Keith "Yet the environment was not supportive for them"

Keith says it was hard to hear what many of the healthcare workers had to say, many of the interviews were disturbing.

"We had people talking to us about assaults that had taken place, they talked to us through tears sometimes shaking sometimes having to stop before they could carry on to finish telling us about the assaults," says Keith.

Brophy says there needs to be better oversight of protection for healthcare workers.

"Iit's one of our major recommendations we need provincial standards that are enforced" says Brophy, "So you don't have one hospital with an alarm system and another one that doesn't have it that you have one hospital with a zero tolerance policy toward violence and assault and one that doesn't even mention it at all."

The report was funded by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions and the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Both Brophy and Keith admit many of the recommendations would require additional funding for the healthcare system.