In 2007, the provincial government introduced workplace violence legislation. The public sector unions worked with the government in the development of the legislation,
and employers were given notice that this was an issue that would no longer be ignored.
So why is it that four years later, as an employee of the IWK Health Centre, I am still struggling to convey the seriousness of this issue to management? Every day in this province, nurses are subjected to verbal, emotional and physical abuse by patients and families; nurses and other members of the health care team are punched and slapped. The perception that nursing is a profession of caring is one that is held by many. Providing compassionate, competent care is difficult in an environment when the safety of the nurse, other members of the health care team and the other patients and families is in jeopardy.
As nurses, we have a professional responsibility to provide safe, competent care to our patients and we make every effort to do so. We also have a right to expect that our employer will make the same effort to insure that we are able to provide this care without fear of assault, injury and/or verbal abuse.
I urge the employer at the IWK to address violence in the workplace as a serious issue in an expedient manner---the health and safety of its nurses is at great risk.Shannon Wark, Porter's Lake