Step Away From That Nurse! Violence in Healthcare Continues Unabated

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS


November 19, 2014

In This Article

A Free Training Course in Workplace Violence

What prevents the risk for workplace violence from becoming a reality is often the steps taken by healthcare settings and staff to prevent, prepare for, and respond to violence in the workplace. A key element of this preparation is training in workplace violence geared toward nurses and other healthcare providers who are most likely to be victims of such violence—education that would seem to be mandatory for nurses who work in high-risk settings. "But when we spoke to nurses at healthcare conferences, many would tell us that they didn't have access to violence training in their work settings," said Hartley.

It was imperative to address this gap, and provide the tools and techniques that nurses need to prevent and manage workplace violence. NIOSH collaborated with Vida Health Communications and other experts in healthcare violence prevention to develop an online course called Workplace Violence Prevention for Nurses that awards free continuing education credits (2.6 contact hours) upon completion of the course's 13 modules. Course content was derived from experts in the field of workplace violence and from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's guidelines for the prevention of workplace violence in healthcare.[38]

The course content is applicable for any healthcare professional or student who desires an introduction to workplace violence prevention strategies. For nurses who don't have time to complete the course in one sitting, the course applies "resume where you left off" technology.

Strengths of the course are hearing from nurses who have experienced violence in the workplace, and video case studies involving violence in healthcare. Video case study scenarios include a psychiatric patient in the ED, an angry husband on the postpartum unit, a death threat in home healthcare, a cognitively impaired patient in a long-term care facility, and a bed-bound patient making inappropriate sexual advances. The case studies and personal stories will resonate with nurses who have found themselves in similar situations, and perhaps wondered whether they could have been handled differently. The vignettes inform viewers about the appropriate steps to take during and after incidents of violence.

Using the crisis continuum as a model to describe how an individual progresses from normal stress and anxiety to a loss of control, the course delineates intervention strategies, including verbal and nonverbal responses that can be used to try and defuse tension and prevent the situation from escalating to violence. Nurses will learn about the dynamics of power and control, and how these influence behavior not only in the aggressor, but in the nurse as well.


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