Preventing Workplace Violence – Is It Time to Call OSHA?

  

A behavioral health facility in Colorado was recently fined nearly $12,000 and given 15 days to make the premises safe from workplace violence (WPV). The citation came from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which found workplace hazards that exposed staff to physical threats and assaults by patients. The hazards were so great that nurses and other direct-care staff were experiencing concussions, broken skin, bruising, scratches, sprains and strains, and head injuries.

In the citation notice, OSHA ordered the employer to remove these hazards. Specific steps included implementing a comprehensive WPV prevention program, remodeling nurse stations, equipping staff with devices to call for help, continuously monitoring security cameras, and setting up procedures to notify affected staff of incidents and risks of WPV.

OSHA citations are somewhat rare for WPV issues that affect nurses, despite the fact that health care workers experience workplace violence at a rate 5-12 times higher than other workers. Nurse advocates would like to see stronger federal actions, which would reduce WPV hazards while driving employers voluntarily to adopt meaningful prevention programs.  ANA is supporting a bill in Congress that would require OSHA to develop enforceable standards specifically for WPV in health care. To tell your federal lawmakers why it’s so important they support this legislation, please click here.

As the citation in Colorado shows, however, OSHA is willing to use its general enforcement power when inspectors hear about egregious cases that risk workers’ lives and physical safety.

Does it have to go that far before something is done? No, certainly not.

Nurses are engaged everyday with co-workers and employers in efforts to prevent WPV. It is, after all, a nurse’s ethical duty to help foster an overall culture of safety and civility for everyone in a care setting. ANA has created a treasure trove of resources to support nurses who want to take a more active role in making their workplace safer.

Yet when a true culture of safety is not achieved, federal oversight may be necessary to prevent WPV. Nurses have a right to complain to OSHA about WPV incidents stemming from unsafe situations, as well other hazards. It’s best for complaints to be specific about existing hazards and name the workplace injuries or health impacts that have occurred. If you are thinking about filing an OSHA complaint, this brief Fact Sheet from ANA will tell you more about the process and link you to important information.

To learn more about what ANA is doing to #EndNurseAbuse, contact Policy and Government Affairs at gova@ana.org.

ANA Celebrates #Pride in Health Care

  

June is Pride Month and a chance to give colorful visibility to LGBTQ lives and relationships, celebrating inclusion, respect, and civil rights. To LGBTQ nurses, patients, caregivers, and allies – Happy #Pride!

ANA condemns discrimination in health care based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or expression. Experiencing any kind of discrimination, stigma, or disrespect from care providers is not just unpleasant. It can be traumatizing. It can lead people to hold back important information about their health or avoid seeking care altogether. These access barriers can lead to poor health outcomes.

Nursing advocacy plays a key role in promoting culturally congruent, patient-centered access for LGBTQ patients. To help you support Pride in health care this month and every month, we have rounded up some handy resources.

First, ANA’s Nursing Advocacy for LGBTQ+ Populations is a comprehensive statement and framework for improving culturally congruent care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ+) populations. The statement names barriers LGBTQ people often confront in health care, and the health disparities that result. ANA commits to addressing these concerns with a series of recommendations to defend and protect the human and civil rights of all members of LGBTQ populations.

Throughout the statement, it is clear there are many ways nurses can ensure positive experiences for LGBTQ patients and their families in the health care system, including through advocacy. There are also numerous links to helpful references if you want to learn more or share information about safeguarding access for LGBTQ populations.

One of those references is the National LGBT Health Education Center in the Fenway Institute. The Fenway Institute grew out of Fenway Health’s experience providing care to LGBTQ people in Boston, many of whom confront access barriers in local care delivery. The National LGBT Health Education Center offers education and advocacy programs that are grounded in the LGBT community, aiming to change the larger community. For example, the center’s website houses training materials and toolkits, and information on how to receive more in-depth technical assistance. These are valuable tools to make health care more inclusive and enable providers to meet the unique needs of LGBTQ patients.

Here are some additional resources to support LGBTQ patients and advocate to improve their care experience:

Happy #Pride!

A Life Changing Event Leads to Nurse Advocacy

  

Greetings!

I am very excited to announce that I recently joined the Policy and Government Affairs team at the American Nurses Association. By way of getting to know me and my background, my career started on Capitol Hill where I worked in the House of Representatives for several years, and most recently, I had the privilege of working at the American Physical Therapy Association.

I do not think landing at ANA is purely coincidental. Just a couple of years ago my family went through a deeply terrifying time. One day my mother was healthy and happy and overnight everything changed. She developed hematomas on her brain and wound up in a weeks-long coma. As readers of this blog uniquely know, my family was terrified. We were in ICU for a very long time and developed relationships with many hospital workers.

We would not have made it through each day without the nurses we met. When we didn’t understand something (which happened frequently!), the nurses would break it down and explain what it meant. When we needed something for my mother, they would get it as soon as they could. Of course, there were also the moments where we didn’t see hope, and as busy as ICU nurses are, they would take a moment and were there for us.

This fall my family celebrates three years since that time. I couldn’t be happier to share that my mother is awake, at home, and she recently went to Orlando with her children and grandkids and had the vacation of a lifetime.

While we are so grateful to be past that stage, we are forever thankful to those nurses who not only helped my mom but helped our entire family. We have even gone back to the hospital to see the team and show off how well their former patient is doing!

Working in this role is what I can do to try and repay all of the nurses around the country that have done so much.

Here at ANA I am leading our legislative efforts on issues that include: Title VIII funding; safe staffing; workplace violence; health care transformation; and U.S. Nurse Cadet Corp. legislation. I encourage you to get in touch with your Members of Congress and tell them your stories about why it is so important they support these issues.

I look forward to working together to move forward sound policy that helps advance the nursing profession across the country.