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The Emergency Nurses Association's recently published study — “Nothing Changes, Nobody Cares: Understanding the Experience of Emergency Nurses Physically or Verbally Assaulted While Providing Care” — spells out exactly what every healthcare worker has shared with the California Safe Care Standard campaign since its launch: the culture of acceptance about workplace violence prevalent among hospital administrators and law enforcement needs to change.

This post is about the study and to introduce (or re-introduce) you to the California Safe Care Standard Campaign to get us to a comprehensive workplace violence prevention standard with Cal/OSHA that will cover all healthcare workers.

Disclosure: I am the health and safety director for SEIU Local 121RN, the union that is leading on the California Safe Care Standard.

“Assaults on emergency nurses have lasting impacts on the nurses and the ability of emergency care facilities to provide quality care,” ENA President Deena Brecher says. “More than 70 percent of emergency nurses reported physical or verbal assaults by patients or visitors while they were providing care. As a result, we lose experienced and dedicated nurses to physical or psychological trauma for days or sometimes permanently. Healthcare organizations have a responsibility to nurses and the public to provide a safe and secure environment.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, assaults on healthcare workers are the most common sources of nonfatal injuries or illnesses requiring days off from work in the healthcare and social assistance industry. Despite this, the ENA study discovered a culture of acceptance among hospital administrators, prosecutors, and judges. One emergency nurse assault victim reported being told by a judge,

“well, isn’t that the nature of the beast, being in the emergency room and all?” Another told the researchers that the “administration will only take action when some lethal event happens.”
“There will always be the potential for violence against emergency nurses,” Brecher says. “But we must not accept it as the price of helping the sick and injured. With training and a change of culture, we can significantly decrease the occurrence of assaults against emergency nurses.”

While training and a change of culture can decrease the violence that healthcare workers face on a daily basis, there must also be fundamental engineering and administrative changes at the facilities where we work. It is with this in mind that the California Safe Care Standard campaign is working toward a comprehensive, enforceable Cal/OSHA standard to prevent workplace violence against healthcare workers.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Staffing is a huge issue (3+ / 0-)

    Hospitals are in a spiral of lowering the number of staff to stay profitable and handle costs.

    A big factor in this has been the losses hospitals take by.. you got it.. covering losses from those who cannot pay.  There is hope that as time goes on and there are fewer people with no insurance that hospitals will have better access to funding and can increase staffing to better deal with issues.  

    Work safety of this kind often involves making sure you are never alone or undermanned in a dangerous situation.

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 03:59:04 PM PST

  •  Specifically, what sort of training could ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Union Review

    reduce these types of events, short of barring problematic patients and visitors from entering hospitals?

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

    by Neuroptimalian on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 04:45:19 PM PST

  •  I just resigned at a mental health center (0+ / 0-)

    which was run by amateurs, amateurs who thought they could bully and intimidate me and "tell" me what I'll do with my license.

    I resigned on the 21st - quit on the spot as this is a "right to work state' - cleaned out the office and left.

    Americans will shoot up a workplace for less.

    I left partly because the way I was being treated was going to trigger me into beating on somebody who sorely and totally deserves such a beating.

    Is it too much to ask that we get treated half-way decently?

    or do we always have to remind asshole bosses that AMerica is a land of gun violence and that too often you reap what you sow?

    Legal means "good".
    [41984 | Feb 4, 2005]

    by xxdr zombiexx on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 04:58:35 PM PST

  •  EMS work is the ultimate abusive relationship (6+ / 0-)

    Emergency Department Nurse/Staff regularly get assaulted but no one wants to press charges agains the people who assaulted them.  

    It is even worse in the pre-hospital environment.  EMS (to include the ED) take abuse from their patients, co-workers, and management.  But you won't find more dedicated people who come back over and over because they care about the area they serve.

    They are required to work long hours, no breaks, get held over for mandatory OT regularly. Get low pay (EMT's often start at less than Walmart pays shelf stockers), get cussed at, swung at, vomited on, bleed on, lied to, treated like unskilled laborers, disrespected, micromanaged, expected to do the amazing, work in all kinds of weather (better show up when the roads are closed or you will be written up), get other peoples problems dumped on them, and have to be around people in the worst of their times.

    And every shift, we come back for more.  Because we love the city/town/people.  We can't see how we could let them not be helped.

    Stupid question hour starts now and ends in five minutes.

    by DrillSgtK on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 06:45:55 PM PST

  •  First time I have heard this. Why are Emergency (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Union Review

    Nurses assaulted more than other Nurses? Please provide some background.

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 06:54:02 PM PST

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