"It's important to have that response set up so you can offer them employee assistance," says Papa. "[Nurses] shouldn't need to take a sick day or vacation day if they need to take a day off?it shouldn't count as a sick occurrence."
She also recommends senior leadership make a point of checking in with nurses who have experienced violence. She relates a situation from her own hospital when a couple of nurses were subjected to violence. They were cared for and supported by their immediate supervisors, and senior administration didn't get involved because they knew the staff's supervisors were taking care of the nurses.
The nurses, however, "felt they wanted to hear from the senior administration," she says. "So we put a system in place so they would call and say, 'I understand this happened.' The nurses really appreciate it."
The study found that violence against nurses is far less likely to occur in hospitals that have reporting policies, especially ones that mandate reporting of incidents. It is twice as likely to occur in emergency departments with no reporting policy at all. It is also less likely to occur when nurses perceive there is a strong commitment by administration and management to eliminate workplace violence.
To help organizations set such procedures in place, the ENA has issued a free toolkit to help organizations combat violence and establish plans for responding to it. It comes complete with reporting forms, educational materials, and data collections tools.
While risk of violence against nurses cannot be completely eliminated, it can be mitigated and nurses can be supported. Organizations should make this a priority. As emergency care becomes ever more complex and EDs more crowded, organizations need engaged staff who are committed and who stay. They will only do that if they know the organization is watching their back.