Workplace Violence and Covid-19 in Health Care: How the Hospital Industry Created an Occupational Syndemic
A report by National Nurses United
This report details stark evidence gathered by National Nurses United (NNU), the largest labor union and professional association for registered nurses in the United States, of how the dual failures of health care employers to protect nurses and patients from Covid-19 and workplace violence synergistically interact to amplify the harms caused by each individually. Data are presented and analyzed from seven surveys conducted by NNU in 2020 and 2021 with collectively more than 83,000 responses from nurses and other health care workers in every state.
- Nurses and other health care workers have experienced both high rates of infection and death from Covid-19 and increasing rates of workplace violence during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The high rates of Covid-19 and workplace violence directly result from the failure of health care employers to prepare for and respond to the Covid-19 pandemic to protect nurses and their patients.
- The continued neglect of workplace violence prevention by health care employers has led to increasing rates of workplace violence during the pandemic. Failure to implement effective workplace violence prevention plans during the pandemic has also inhibited Covid-19 infection control, contributing to high Covid-19 rates among health care workers.
- The hospital industry has seized upon the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to accelerate its decades-long restructuring aims — corporate schemes to increase profits and excess revenues without regard for nurse and patient outcomes. The hospital industry claims there is a “nursing shortage,” but the reality is that the hospital industry created this crisis.
- The hospital industry’s prioritization of profits over patient care has precipitated the dual failures to prepare for Covid-19 and prevent workplace violence, which act synergistically to exacerbate the harm caused by each individually — creating an occupational syndemic (from “syn” — synergy and “demic” — epidemic). The concept of a syndemic was first used to describe how diseases can converge and exacerbate each other.