The emergency department is without question the most dangerous place in the hospital for nurses. Combative patients, upset families and personal confrontations that spill into the emergency room can make the ED environment volatile at times. While you’re treating the AMI patient or juggling an influx of patients from a multi-car accident, the last thing you should be concerned about is your personal safety. That’s why we put together these tips to help your hospital advance nursing staff safety in the emergency department.
Start With a Realistic Picture
It’s easier to react quickly and decisively to problems when you can anticipate them. A comprehensive assessment of your ED can help you identify and address any potential issues that could compromise the safety of nursing staff. The Emergency Nurses Association offers a detailed Emergency Department Assessment Tool that will help you identify any shortcomings. The tool addresses security guidelines and procedures, the physical design of the ED, administrative support for reporting violence, violence education programs and the crime rate in the local area.
Make Ongoing Staff Training a Priority
During the heat of the moment, it’s easy to forget the advice given during the training you attended eight months ago. Preparing staff with techniques to defuse tense situations with families or patients is essential, but the messages from training sessions won’t be remembered if they are only offered once a year.
Although finding time for your nurses to attend multiple training sessions may seem impossible, you can reinforce key de-escalation principles during staff meetings. Discuss difficult situations that occurred in the ED recently and explore what went wrong and right. Role-playing is a great way to help reinforce the techniques learned during training.
Emphasize Effective Communication Techniques
Tempers tend to flare when people feel upset or confused or have no control over a situation. When you’re trying to help a patient or family member, it can be difficult not to take angry outbursts personally. Sometimes a simple reminder that you are trying to help can make a difference, as can taking a few minutes to listen to the other person’s concerns.
In some cases, patients or their family members may misunderstand or misinterpret the situation or simply want to vent. Listening to their concerns, explaining the situation in simple terms and discussing the next steps in the process can often defuse the situation.
Know When to Call For Backup
We know nurses often take on more than they should, particularly when it comes to dealing with unruly patients or family members. (Sometimes there’s just no other choice.) In those cases, security protocols are put in place to protect you. Although you may want to try to deal with the situation yourself, you won’t be able to help anyone else if you are injured. Following security protocols helps keep you, your colleagues and other patients safe. Before entering the ED, make sure you know who and how to call for help should you need it.
Improving nursing staff safety not only improves job satisfaction for nurses, but also affects patient satisfaction levels, as nurses who feel secure can devote more time to patient care. Addressing potential safety issues immediately and giving your staff the tools and training they need to deal with difficult patients and family members is an essential aspect of keeping your staff happy and healthy.
Discover more ways nurses can improve HCAHPS scores with our free guide, A Nurse’s Guide to Positively Impacting HCAHPS Scores.