‘It’s never OK to hit a nurse’: nurse attacks on the rise across metro Atlanta, new analysis finds

ATLANTA — It’s a growing problem that is impacting our local health care facilities — nurses are being attacked by patients.

Channel 2 Action News first reported on the danger local nurses face in 2019, but a new analysis has found that nurse attacks are on the rise with an average of two nurses being attacked every hour in the United States.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Sophia Choi when through the numbers and found about 57 nurse assaults were reported per day in the second quarter of 2022. That’s more than 1,700 assaults a month.

Over the course of the year, that’s nearly 21,000 nurses attacked.

Channel 2 Action News reported on Sheila Jahn’s arrest in 2018. Jahn, 57, of Marietta, faces half a dozen charges for allegedly assaulting nurses, staff and threatening officers at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital.

Local nurses say attacks on them happen too often.

“A patient punched me in the chest, and I got two broken ribs,” emergency room nurse Terri Sullivan said.

Dr. Joy Edwards with Naturopathic Medicine described a similar attack on her.

“He started punching and flailing and he punched one of the guys and broke his nose, punched me in the chest, knocked me on the floor,” Edwards said.

“She pushed me so, I flew out of the room — literally. She was a very big woman, pushed me and I flew out of the room, and I almost fell,” family nurse practitioner Victoria Randle said.


A new analysis by Press Ganey — a health care analytics company — found more than two nurses were assaulted every hour in the second quarter of 2022.

Most of the attacks happened in emergency departments and psychiatric units.

“I realize that there are so many more patients with psychological issues nowadays,” Edwards said.

They’re also taking place in pediatric units.

Sullivan helped push for a law that increases the punishment to five to 20 years for assaulting an emergency health care worker in Georgia. She says more needs to be done to stop the violence.

“Being assaulted is not part of the job, plain and simple. It’s never OK to hit a nurse,” Sullivan said.

So what can be done to stop the violence against nurses?

Press Ganey said health care organizations should implement reporting systems for record-keeping and safety, make caregiver safety a core value — and set the expectation that violence on the job is not accepted.

The agency also said health care organizations should also teach the warning signs of violence and de-escalation techniques.


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