March 22, 2024

Emergency Physicians Call on Congress to Help Stop Violence in Health Care

Today, leaders from ACEP, the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA), and the American Nurses Association (ANA) led a congressional briefing to call for legislation to mitigate violence in emergency departments.

“It’s not right that we expect to be assaulted when we go to work,” said Aisha Terry, MD, MPH, FACEP, president of ACEP. “Violence in the emergency department is a dangerous distraction and delay. These attacks create unnecessary and challenging situations that we must try to make a thing of the past.”

The speakers emphasized that current challenges are making threats and attacks more prevalent today than ever before.

With patients boarding for hours, days or longer, there are not enough available beds. Few communities have resources to manage mental health concerns and many of these patients come to the emergency department as the best option, they explained.

“I became a nurse because I wanted to care for people,” said ENA President Chris Dellinger, MBA, BSN, RN, FAEN. “Now, on any day we may be fearing for our lives at work.”

“We have to make sure this is not par for the course,” said Katie Boston- Leary, PHD, MBA, MHA, RN, NEA-BC, director of nursing programs at ANA. “We need federal policies and workforce policies. We have to make the ED a safe place for everyone.”

An ENA spokesperson put it in more succinct terms, “We expect it, but we don’t have to accept it.”

Dr. Terry explained that responses to violent incidents are inconsistent at best.

“We have a checklist so that physicians can talk to hospital administrators about what is, or what is not, in place at their facilities. Legislation would help standardize the prevention and response to these incidents,” she said.

Watch a recording of the briefing.

Soon emergency physicians from all over the country will bring their concerns about violence and other priority topics to the nation’s capital. Seize the opportunity to advocate for change during the Leadership and Advocacy Conference, April 14-16 in Washington, D.C. 


Act Now: Urge Congress to Prevent Violence in the ED

ACEP resources and policies on ED violence prevention

ACEP, AHA Host Congressional Briefing on Violence

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