In a call for healthcare organizations to work with nurses to eliminate workplace violence, two nursing organizations have developed a list of guiding principles and priority focus areas on the topic. The principles and focus areas, published in July editions of the Journal of Emergency Nursing and the Journal of Nursing Administration, were developed as part of a day of dialogue on workplace violence issues held last year by the Emergency Nurses Association and the American Organization of Nurse Executives.
Though emergency department nurses are disproportionately the victims of workplace violence, many do not report it and should be encouraged to do so without fear of reprisal, said Pamela A. Thompson, MS, RN, CENP, FAAN, senior vice president of nursing and CNO at the American Hospital Association, and CEO of AONE.
According to a 2011 study by the ENA, more than half of 6,504 emergency nurses experienced physical violence or verbal abuse from patients and visitors over a week. The ENA estimates the actual rate of violence is higher because most incidents go unreported, the survey found.
Nurse and hospital leaders need to work with staff to create an environment where people feel safe from workplace violence, including threats of physical assault, harassment, intimidation and other coercive behavior, such as bullying by colleagues, Thompson wrote in a July edition of Hospitals & Health Networks Daily.
Five focus areas for healthcare organizations include encouraging respectful behavior, establishing a zero-tolerance framework, ensuring accountability, offering training and education, and creating a way to measure the success of violence-reduction efforts.
The eight guiding principles for mitigating workplace violence include recognizing that:
- Violence can and does happen anywhere.
- Healthy work environments promote positive patient outcomes.
- All aspects of violence, including those involving patients, families and colleagues, must be addressed.
- A multidisciplinary team is needed to address workplace violence.
- Everyone in the organization is accountable for upholding behavior standards.
- When members of a healthcare team identify an issue that contributes to workplace violence, they have an obligation to address it.
- A culture shift requires intention, commitment and collaboration of nurses with other healthcare professionals at all levels.
- Addressing workplace violence may increase the effectiveness of nursing practice and patient care.
Additional resources, including a toolkit to address workplace violence in healthcare settings, are available at aone.org/workplaceviolence.