Scotland's nurses need better protection from violence and aggression, representatives claim.
The RCN want MSPs from all parties to act to protect nurses
The Royal College of Nursing Scotland has launched a campaign urging MSPs and employers to tackle the problem.
The union, which said a third of nurses would be attacked during their career, aims to make the issue a political priority before next year's election.
Health Minister Andy Kerr said he would remind health chiefs that staff had the right to work in safety.
At its conference in Clydebank, the RCN has insisted that staff have the right to expect their employers to take action against those who attack them.
Nursing leaders have called on all the political parties to make better protection of staff in the health service a priority.
The RCN Scotland board's chairwoman, Jane McCready, said it had received "worrying" reports about some managers discouraging staff from reporting attacks.
Mr Kerr denied that such a culture existed and said he had made it clear that incidents had to be taken seriously.
"What worries me most is the assertion that management aren't dealing with it at local level and that is unacceptable," he told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme.
"I will again make that clear to our chief executives and chairs that any member of staff has the right to work in a violence-free environment.
"We need to do our utmost to protect them and if something happens it is our job to ensure that we take action and learn any lessons that can be learned."
The minister said he shared the RCN's view that patients' relatives who were drunk should not be allowed in to hospitals if it was thought they might cause trouble.
Ms McCready said all healthcare workers had the right to do their job without fear of abuse.
"All nurses will be affected by violence and aggression at some stage in their career," she said.
"One in three will be attacked themselves, while their colleagues will have witnessed these incidents and may have had to come to their aid. This cannot be allowed to continue."
She said attacks had a "huge" impact, with some people leaving the profession altogether.
"Those who remain often have to deal with staff shortages while the person who has been attacked is receiving treatment or is off work," Ms McCready added.
"Such high levels of sickness absence and the loss of staff will inevitably have an impact on patient care."