On Wednesday, Jan. 17, ED nurses at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center received death threats over something written in a patient’s chart. This is appalling. It is terrifying for these nurses and an unacceptable breach of safety and security.
Nurses must be able to chart truthfully and accurately for the sake of safe patient care. Their notes in a patient’s chart should never be weaponized against nurses as they were here. It is our sincere hope that law enforcement is able to identify the responsible individual and take all steps needed to secure the safety of the nurses they threatened.
At bargaining on Friday, we shared our members’ questions and concerns with PeaceHealth’s management and asked them for updates on the investigation into these threats. Management shared details regarding the investigation and we have since shared those details along to our members. We plan to continue our conversation with management and update our members as we receive new information.
What happened is a form of workplace violence, which is at an all-time high. According to a recent Press Ganey report, more than two nurses were assaulted every hour between April 1 and June 30, 2022. That is approximately 57 occurrences per day and over 1,700 assaults per month.
According to the American Nurses Association, Washington is one of eight states to require employers to implement a workplace violence prevention program. But more must be done to protect nurses both on and off the clock, including staffing hospitals with enough nurses to respond quickly to patient needs and potential instances of violence and ensuring nurses have the support they need keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
Workplace violence is a top issue for the Washington State Nurses Association and the American Nurses Association, and we will continue to promote strategies to reduce and address violence against nurses.