ER violence: Advocates call for New Jersey to take steps to protect hospital staff

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Amid rising concerns about violence in hospitals, one of the major stumbling blocks to combat it is a sense of resignation and acceptance among employees that these types of incidents are just part of the job. In New Jersey, where hospitals’ perceived failure to protect their employees has recently been in the national spotlight, advocates have embarked on a statewide effort to increase awareness of violence within hospital walls and increase security, according to the Courier-Post.

Jenice Forde-Baker, M.D., and Steven Hochman, M.D., told the newspaper that they were alarmed after a survey of 223 clinicians at New Jersey emergency departments revealed that nearly 8 in 10 employees reported verbal or physical abuse on a weekly basis. In response, Forde-Baker and Hochman began a statewide awareness campaign with backing from the Garden State’s chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

In addition to violence’s impact on workplace culture, its effects trickle down to patient safety and outcomes as well, Hochman told the paper. "This is already a highly stressful job," he said. "The burnout rate is pretty high in our industry. We feel that emergency doctors and emergency staff should be provided a work environment in which we’re secure."

New Jersey’s efforts to safeguard against violence have been years in the making already. Two years ago, with violence in South Jersey hospitals on the upswing, leaders reviewed policies, provided additional training and held active shooter drills, but few respondents to Forde-Baker and Hochman’s survey said they felt prepared for the threat of assaults, according to the article. And despite a state requirement that hospitals offer at least two hours of training on violence prevention every year, the healthcare system lacks standardized training, according to Bridget DeVane, public policy director for Health Professionals and Allied Employees, New Jersey’s biggest healthcare union.

- here’s the article