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In this issue: Stop nurses and other emergency personnel from becoming targets of violence


Stop nurses and other emergency personnel from becoming targets of violence

Violence against nurses and other front-line emergency personnel is on the rise. In fact, violent incidents involving hospital workers have increased 37 percent over the past three years. What’s more, a 2013 study found that one in three nurses have witnessed violence or bullying in the workplace, and just as many have reported injuries as a result of the same. Considering these numbers only represent the incidents that have been reported, it is clear to see we have a problem on our hands.Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are likely very aware of this mounting problem and can continue tackling it with some additional training, support and added security measures. For some helpful tips organizations can use to keep staff safe, keep reading.

Keeping employees safe from violence
Patients become violent for a number of reasons—whether they’re frustrated, intoxicated or have behavioral health issues, these tips may be able to help mitigate the problem before it starts.

  • Use a color coding system: Color coding systems are widely used in today’s hospital settings. From colored cards used to indicate an open exam room to colored bracelets indicating a patient has a food allergy, these at-a-glance coding systems can be very useful. Why not take it a step further and label patient charts the same way. Flag the files of patients who have a history of violence with a red clip so staff are instantly aware. Or place a cautionary sign right on the exam room door or window to alert staff before they enter that there is the potential for violent behavior.
  • Set the tone for patients: Let patients know your organization will not permit violence and bullying. Imprint banners and signs with your zero-tolerance mantra and hang them throughout the hospital or healthcare facility. You may also want to include a pamphlet with your admission paperwork that defines bullying and violent behavior and outlines consequences for violating your policy.
  • Assemble a violence-prevention and training committee: Approximately 80 percent of emergency department nurses have gone through some sort of violence prevention training; however, half say they didn’t receive this training on the job. Training is imperative to provide emergency personnel with the tools they need to recognize the warning signs of potentially violent situations and de-escalate them before they start. The Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) offers a tool kit that can help hospitals and other healthcare organizations develop and implement a prevention plan. Once in place, be sure to include all staff in training sessions. Encourage participation and interaction with small giveaways for Q&A, like Syringe Pens, tag-along sanitizers and Stress Relievers.

Remember, your staff has the right to feel safe at work. Nipping violent behavior in the bud not only protects your employees, but it also promotes their productivity and allows them to provide the best care possible to their patients. Stay safe.


Sullivan, Katie. “Nurses, emergency department workers often targets of violence.” FierceHealthcare. N.p., 09 July 2014. Web. Retrieved 01 Aug. 2014.

Cheung-Larivee, Karen. “Hospital color codes, bans violent patients.” FierceHealthcare. N.p., 15 Aug. 2011. Web. Retrieved 01 Aug. 2014.

Sullivan, Katie. “Violence against hospital nurses prompts call for education, planning.” FierceHealthcare. N.p., 08 Apr. 2014. Web. Retrieved 01 Aug. 2014.

“ENA Workplace Violence Toolkit.” Emergency Nurses Association – www.ena.org. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 01 Aug. 2014.

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