June 18, 2020

Addressing Violence in the Emergency Department—Yes, It’s Still a Priority

Although most of ACEP’s federal advocacy efforts in recent months have focused on our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve still been advancing efforts on other critical issues for emergency physicians. One such issue is addressing violence in the emergency department (ED).

Unfortunately, in all likelihood, you or someone you know has likely been physically or verbally assaulted in the ED. In fact, an ACEP survey showed that nearly half of emergency physicians have experienced violence in the ED and 80 percent of emergency physicians said that violence in the ED was harming patient care.

As a result, ACEP and the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) launched “No Silence on ED Violence” to support, empower, and protect those working in our nation’s EDs by raising awareness of the serious dangers emergency health providers face every day, and by generating action among stakeholders and policymakers to ensure a violence-free workplace for emergency nurses and physicians.

For the past nine months, ACEP and ENA have also been part of an Action Team sponsored by the National Quality Forum, which included 27 experts and recognized leaders from the private and public sector committed to improving the safety of the health care workforce. I was honored to have represented ACEP on the Action Team.

Through a series of web meetings and one in-person forum, the Action Team was able to identify and propose ways to overcome key barriers to appropriately responding to and reporting violent incidents in health care settings and preventing future ones from occurring.

The work of the Action Team culminated this week with the release of an issue brief (available to download here). This brief sets the stage for our ongoing work to make EDs and other health care settings safer. Specifically, it identifies four strategies that health care leaders, organizations and community stakeholders can take to prevent, report, and root out health care workplace violence:

  • Standardize definitions and data collection which includes implementing simple, comprehensive internal reporting systems that allow for actionable interventions and follow up.
  • Analyze and share data such as information on how to cultivate and raise awareness around the need for a culture of safety that includes health care worker safety and the value of reporting incidents of workplace violence.
  • Invest in safety including supporting evidence-based research to advance policies, legislation, and voluntary accreditation as levers to drive investment of resources.
  • Collaborate and scale efforts by identifying and engaging stakeholders within and across the care continuum to share lessons learned, best practices, and innovative solutions.

The issue brief concludes by discussing how “strong leadership, an organizational commitment to workplace safety, incident reporting, data collection, and transparency are key to fostering an organization that prioritizes the safety of its healthcare workforce and promotes a culture of safety.”

Moving forward, we need to continue the momentum that our No Silence on ED Violence campaign and our work on the NQF Action Team have created. I encourage you to review the resources provided on our No Silence on ED Violence website and continue to share your stories and experiences by tweeting using #StopEDViolence.

Until next week, this is Jeffrey saying, enjoy reading regs with your eggs!

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