Researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health analyzed data on nursing-home employees from the 2004 National Nursing Assistant Survey and learned the following about on-the-job violence:

Thirty-four percent of nursing assistants surveyed reported experiencing physical injuries from residents’ aggression in the previous year. Mandatory overtime (odds ratio [OR] = 1.65; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.22, 2.24) and not having enough time to assist residents with their activities of daily living (OR = 1.49; 95% CI = 1.25, 1.78) were strongly associated with experiencing injuries from assaults. Nursing assistants employed in nursing homes with Alzheimer care units were more likely to experience such injuries, including being bitten by residents.

Violence against healthcare workers is alarmingly common (see this past post about violence in the ER), and nurses and other personal care workers are most affected. A 2008 New York Times article, citing Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, reported that nursing homes and psychiatric units are the most dangerous settings for healthcare workers.

A recent tragedy highlights the risk for psychiatric-unit workers. Last month, Donna Gross, 54, a psychiatric technician at the Napa State Hospital in California, was strangled to death, and a patient from the hospital is being held on suspicion of murder.