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Workplace violence against nurses and other healthcare workers is a real and dangerous problem. It is an issue that I deal with on an everyday basis in the emergency room, and in all honesty, one of my biggest fears. I am not alone in my experience of violence directed toward me or staff members on a daily basis, in fact according to Lenaghan, Cirrincione, & Henrich (2018), “approximately 11,000 healthcare workers a year are victims of assault, and over 50 percent of ER nurses are verbally or physically assaulted on a regular basis” (p.7). According to Phillips (2016), “health care workplace violence is an underreported, ubiquitous, and persistent problem that has been tolerated and largely ignored” (p. 1661). Unfortunately, according to Hester, Harrelson, & Mongo (2016), “there is currently no federal legislation that protects health care workers from workplace violence; however, 36 states have adopted legislative solutions that make violence against nurses and other health care personnel unlawful” ( p. 205). Protection of people who attempt to harm healthcare workers should be illegal nationwide. I have had experienced when patients have assaulted staff and when the police are called they report there is nothing they can do, as they did not witness the assault. The only option is for staff to do is make a report, which usually does not end up in criminal charges.
A call for change and the protection of healthcare workers is being supported by agencies across the United States. For example, the American Nurses Association (ANA) has come out strongly in its attempts to convince the federal government to pass strict and enforceable laws protecting nurses from workplace violence. According to (“ANA Applauds Passage of Workplace Violence Prevention Legislation,” 2019), ANA President Ernest Grant PhD, RN, FAAN stated
“Nurses face varying degrees of physical and verbal abuse in health care settings across the country. This is not OK. Nurses should never have to fear for their safety when they deliver patient care. Workplace cultures that discourage nurses from reporting incidences of violence for fear of retribution and retaliation continue to be at the heart of this issue. Any barriers that impede reporting hamper progress to address workplace violence despite the presence of “zero tolerance” policies.”
Current policy changes as recent as February 2021 have been presented by the House of Representatives. The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, (H.R. 1195), which would require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop enforceable standards requiring health care and social service employers to write and implement a workplace violence prevention plan to protect employees from violent incidents in the workplace. This legislation passed the House on April 16, and the ANA is working with the bill sponsors to hopefully see its passage in both chambers and be signed into law by President Biden this Congress.
ANA Applauds Passage of Workplace Violence Prevention Legislation. (2019, November 21). Retrieved from https://www.nursingworld.org/news/news-releases/2019-news-releases/ana-applauds-passage-of-workplace-violence-prevention-legislation/
Harris-Taylor, M. (2019). Facing escalating workplace violence, hospital employees have had enough. Washington: NPR. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/2205070626?accountid=100141
Lenaghan, P. A., Cirrincione, N. M., & Henrich, S. (2018). Preventing emergency department violence through design. Journal of Emergency Nursing, 44(1), 7–12 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jen.2017.06.012
Phillips, J. P. (2016). Workplace violence against health care workers in the united states. New England Journal of Medicine, 374(17), 1661–1669. https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmra1501998
NCNA is the North Carolina Nurses Association and one of the leading professional associations for registered nurses in North Carolina. “ On March 11, 2021, legislation, outside organizations and NCNA announced the introduction of the SAVE ACT,” a bill to grant full-practice authority for Advanced Registered Nurses. “(NCNA, 2022)
With the Save Act passage, as we have discussed in this program, due to the shortage of physicians increasing in the US, NC lawmakers have a chance to provide a higher percentage of quality health care coverage to the population. As stated, “streamlining regulations to allow APRNs to fully utilize their training is one path to alleviate the looming crisis while helping to keep healthcare cost under control.”(NCNA 2022) Advocates for the passing of the Save Act continue to build a necessity of high priority in the passing of this bill.
The steps to make the Save Act to a law in NC::
“ The bill is introduced to either the house of representatives or the senate. The governor signs the bill. Based on information from the North Carolina Secretary of State website. The secretary of state is given custody of the bill, and it becomes a law.”(NC.gov. ) Even though the limitations for practicing APRN was waived during the pandemic, the Save Act has been held up in committee since March. Physicians have been the most opposed group of people to the passing of the Save Act.
“The National Academy of Medicine has, once again, said the bill’s goal should be a major part of the country’s healthcare strategy with its new Future of Nursing 2020-2030.”( NCNA, 2021) as for now NC continues to be a restricted state for APRNs. Many known organizations such as; AARP, Amazon, NC Citizens for Public Health, and March of Dimes are just a few known supporters of passing the Save Act Bill. As we have learned in our studies in this program, it has been cited that APRNs can improve and apply high quality of health care to the population and reduce the cost of health care.
NCNA, (2022) The SAVE Act-House Bill 277 & Senate Bill
NCNA (2021) Pressure Building on NCGA to Pass the Save Act,
Retrieved from: https://www.files.nc.gov.dncr-moh
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