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Learn more about how to prevent violence in the workplace


Developed with input from the American Nurses Association (ANA) and other healthcare stakeholders, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) offers a new, free online course “Workplace Violence Prevention for Nurses.” The course covers the prevalence of violence in the healthcare setting, consequences, risk factors, prevention strategies, and postincident response for workplace violence. It also fills the need for more tools to help healthcare workers prevent both physical and other types of violence on the job. Participants have the opportunity to earn 2.6 free continuing nursing education units.

Each topic in the multimedia course is introduced with nurses sharing personal experiences. Concepts presented throughout the course are reinforced by reenactments of five real-life scenarios (case studies). Below are brief descriptions of the case studies.

1. A psychiatric patient appears at the emergency department in an agitated state. The scenario demonstrates how a psychiatric nurse and a security officer work to calm the patient down, determine the best course of action, and get him to voluntarily re-enter the facility for treatment.

2. The husband of a postpartum patient is abusive to his wife’s nurse. Shaken, the nurse consults her supervisor, and they address the husband directly. The incident raises memories of the nurse’s own past abusive relationship.

3. The patient of a home health nurse threatens her with physical harm. The nurse remains calm and safely exits the home. Postcrisis debriefing and counseling for the nurse is explored.

4. Nurses working in a long-term care facility have encountered abusive behavior from facility residents. Because these residents have cognitive impairment, the nurses seek help and advice from their manager and a consulting clinical nurse specialist on the best way to handle the patients and to report the incidents.

5. A frustrated patient expresses anger at a nursing assistant, and then surprises her with a sexual advance. The nursing assistant’s reaction and her supervisor’s response are the emphasis of this case study.

To take the course or learn more, visit the introduction page on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/violence/training_nurses.html.

Dan Hartley is a workplace violence prevention coordinator at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Atlanta.

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