WASHINGTON, D.C. –The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) joined forces on Capitol Hill to call for action to mitigate workplace violence against health care workers and increase mental health care resources for patients.
“Emergency departments are the front door to the hospital. It is the health care safety net in many communities,” said ENA President Terry Foster, MSN, RN, CEN, CPEN, CCRN, TCRN, FAEN. “Every patient who arrives in the emergency department deserves the absolute best from the nurses, physicians and other health care providers – but that isn’t possible the longer workplace violence is considered part of the job or if an urgent emphasis isn’t placed on improving access to mental health care resources and in, and beyond, the ED.”
Two recently introduced pieces of legislation were the focus of the discussion. The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 2663 and S. 1176) would direct OSHA to require health care and social service employers to develop and implement workplace violence prevention plans that are worker-driven and comprehensive to ensure the safety of patients and workers.
The Improving Mental Health Access from the Emergency Department Act (S. 1346) would develop a competitive grant program that creates more resources for emergency departments to adapt more collaborative and cohesive care models to connect patients in mental health crisis with appropriate resources in their communities. It also aims to increase access to inpatient beds and alternative care settings, which will help alleviate boarding and overcrowding issues.
“Emergency physicians and emergency nurses strongly believe that threats and attacks against health care workers are unacceptable,” said Christopher S. Kang, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP. “Emergency care teams must be dedicated to patient care without fearing for their safety. We must also address the mental health care crisis in this country that emergency physicians see and manage every day. More resources and better coordinated care can improve the patient and physician experience, outcomes, and well-being.”