Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, the union that represents the Temple University Hospital nurses, hosted a Philadelphia conference to address violence against healthcare professionals state-wide. While instances of violence in an urban trauma center aren’t shocking, workplace violence needs to be addressed and should not be treated as an inevitable occurrence.
According to the 2005 Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8.8 percent of healthcare professionals reported an incident of workplace violence within the year prior to being surveyed. PASNAP reported that, in the past, it has repeatedly addressed the issue of nurses and other healthcare professionals facing threats or incidents of violence in the workplace.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health defined workplace violence as “violent acts directed toward persons at work or on duty.” According to NIOSH, health care and social service workers have faced significant job-related violence risks for many years. NIOSH identified assaults as a serious safety and health hazard within these industries. The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration violence prevention guidelines recommend employers establish violence prevention programs and track progress in reducing work-related assaults.
Certainly not every violent incident can be prevented, but with the proper programming and follow-up evaluations, incidents can at least be reduced. If the issue is not carefully addressed, the quality of care could suffer.
According to coverage of PASNAP’s Nov. 10 conference [“Nurses’ union responds to violent cases against staff,” Page 2], both Temple University Health System and PASNAP representatives identified workplace violence as one of the biggest challenges to the nursing and health care fields.
While TUH is increasing its Emergency Room security and developing measures for PASNAP input at certain branches, the health system should work with the nurses’ union to develop a comprehensive plan to address the nurses’ safety.
TUHS should consistently strive to provide the safest possible environment for its healthcare professionals, so that those professionals can provide quality patient care without having to fear for their personal safety.