Hospitals must encourage ER nurses to report violent incidents

Healthcare organizations must encourage emergency department (ED) nurses, who are frequently victims of violence, to report all incidents of physical and verbal assaults, according to Hospitals & Health Networks.

Nurses often fail to report violent incidents which might help ensure their future safety, wrote author Pamela A. Thompson, R.N., senior vice president of nursing and chief nursing officer at the American Hospital Association, and CEO of the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE).

Research indicates that many healthcare workers underreport violence because it is inconvenient and they accept conditions "as part of their job," FierceHealthcare previously reported, and that attitude may extend to hospital leaders who may be too willing to tolerate violence.

Healthcare workers and those who work in social assistance settings are five times more likely to be victims of nonfatal assaults or violent acts than the average worker in all other occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A survey conducted by the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) found that 55.6 percent of nurses reported they had experienced physical violence, verbal violence or both.  It's a growing problem, as a report earlier this year from the Occupational Health Safety Network found that injuries associated with workplace violence nearly doubled for nurse assistants and nurses from 2012 to 2014.

Hospitals must  increase their commitment to eliminating workplace violence, the report said. The ENA and AONE recently teamed up to sponsor a forum on workplace violence, during which participants developed guiding principles and action items to reduce both co-worker violence and incidents perpetrated by patients and family members. The guiding principles and a toolkit are available on the AONE web site.

The toolkit outlines six steps to mitigate workplace violence:

  • Understand workplace violence
  • Develop a zero-tolerance policy
  • Assess the risk factors in your facility
  • Develop a workplace violence prevention plan
  • Train and deploy staff
  • Evaluate the changes and identify the next steps.

To learn more:
- read the article
- check out the guiding principles and toolkit