Verbal De-escalation for Clinicalpractice Safety

Julia Mason Jubb, DNP, RN, CNE; Cathryn J. Baack, PhD, APRN, FNP-C


Am Nurs Today. 2019;14(1):5-7. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Violence continues to be a problem in healthcare settings. (See Workplace violence stats.) Too many nurses continue to believe that workplace violence is part of the job, so they don't ask for help when they're in a combative situation with a patient or family member, and they don't notify their supervisors of an injury. However, the American Nurses Association (ANA) position statement on Incivility, Bullying, and Workplace Violence states that "all registered nurses and employers in all settings, including practice, academia, and research must collaborate to create a culture of respect, free of incivility, bullying, and workplace violence." In other words, violence should never be an accepted part of practice.

But when you do encounter combative patients or family members, what should you do? First, remember that they're in a stressful situation and may act out for many reasons, including a medical diagnosis, drug misuse withdrawal, medication effects, mental health issues, or financial anxiety. Quickly building rapport with the patient and using proven verbal de-escalation tools can help you prevent a tense situation from becoming violent.