There have been 279 assaults in HSE hospitals in 2019 so far, according to new figures released to Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly in a parliamentary question.
Up to 249, or 89%, were against nurses.
The INMO has blamed the problems on understaffing, overcrowding and under-capacity, which the union described as creating a “pressure cooker environment”.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said: “Any assault on a frontline health worker is completely unacceptable. Nurses are clearly bearing the brunt of assaults - facing nearly 90% of attacks.
“But these figures are just the tip of the iceberg. Many more assaults go unreported, as nurses are often too busy to stop work and do the paperwork. The statistics also do not include voluntary hospitals, where problems are likely just as bad.
“Overcrowded, understaffed services create a pressure cooker environment. Patients can get frustrated at conditions and a tiny minority unacceptably lash out at staff. That means frontline staff being put at risk for conditions they are not responsible for.
“With proper staffing, care would be faster and better, which would ensure tensions in hospitals don’t build up."
The figures do not include voluntary hospitals, private hospitals, or other health services outside of HSE hospitals.