SILVER SPRING, MD - The following statement is attributable to American Nurses Association President Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN:
“Tragically, last week, three health care professionals were fatally assaulted in the facilities where they worked while caring for patients. On Oct. 23, two health care employees, Jacqueline Ama Pokuaa and nurse Annette Flowers were shot and killed in a maternal-child unit at Methodist Dallas Medical Center while caring for some of the most vulnerable patients. On Oct. 18, nurse June Onkundi was fatally stabbed by a patient in Durham, North Carolina.
We mourn for the individuals who horrifically lost their lives, and we extend heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims.
Health care institutions are centers of healing and should be one of the safest places to work but they are regrettably becoming more violent. These senseless, yet preventable tragedies are symptomatic of a disturbing trend of violence against nurses and other health care professionals. Sadly, the incidence of violence against health care workers has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a workplace survey of more than 11,800 nurses, almost one-third of respondents have experienced incidents of physical violence. What is more troubling, as many as 80 percent of nurses don’t report acts of violence. Nurses not reporting is often due to fear of retaliation and retribution.
Acts of violence against health care professionals should not be tolerated under any circumstances. The American Nurses Association (ANA) has for years called for zero tolerance for workplace violence and advocated for workplace violence legislation and policies to protect and safeguard nurses and other employees. ANA currently supports federal legislation (H.R. 1195/S4182) that requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop and implement specific standards for citations and penalties against employers who fail to act.
Employers, policymakers, regulators, and employees must work together to make health care work environments safe places. Employers have a responsibility to protect their employees. There are steps health care system employers can and must take to ensure the safety of their employees. Visitor and traffic management policies must be implemented now to protect nurses and other health care providers.
Time is up. Violence against health care employees is unacceptable. This must end now.”