A powerful New York Times article and video examines the increasing threat of violence against health care workers. Emergency physicians and care teams know these risks all too well.
Aisha Terry, MD, MPH, FACEP, president of ACEP, tells the New York Times, “People, appropriately so, feel that the safety net should always be there, no matter what, and should serve its purpose of not letting people fall through the cracks. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, those factors have resulted in us becoming more vulnerable to violence.”
ACEP refuses to accept that violence is “just part of the job.” We are standing up for emergency physicians and working to strengthen physician protections, increase accountability for these incidents, and raise awareness so that hospital leaders and policymakers take action.
The status quo is unacceptable.
We will continue to create and leverage opportunities to promote ACEP member stories and share our polling data as part of a comprehensive campaign to address ED violence. ACEP members can contact their legislators through this Action Alert that references the story and accompanying video.
Here’s a quick look at recent ACEP advocacy on the topic:
A two-pronged legislative approach
ACEP is informing and securing bipartisan congressional support for the “Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act” (H.R. 2663/S. 1176). The bill would direct OSHA to issue federal standards for health care and social service employers to create violence prevention plans and establish procedures to identify risks, specify solutions, and require training, reporting, and incident investigations, in addition to ensuring protections from retaliation for reporting violent incidents.
We also strongly support the “Safety From Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) Act” (H.R. 2584/S. 2768). The bill would establish legal penalties for individuals who knowingly and intentionally assault or intimidate health care workers.
Raising concerns with federal regulators and agencies
Previously, ACEP helped develop The Joint Commission (TJC) workplace violence prevention requirements that became effective in January 2022. We worked with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to develop a workplace violence standard and participated in an Action Team sponsored by the National Quality Forum, which identified and proposed ways to overcome key barriers to appropriately responding to, reporting and preventing future violent incidents in health care settings.
These efforts come on the heels of making ED violence a central issue at ACEP’s annual Leadership and Advocacy Conference. In the spring, ACEP members blanketed Capitol Hill for meetings with legislators and staff. A May 2023 joint press conference with the Emergency Nurses Association added momentum to support for solutions to protect you on the job.
ACEP is currently coordinating ED visits across the country to educate federal legislators and their staff about these issues. ACEP members hosted ED visits for 16 legislators this year.