Investigation into TikTok threats against Washington nurse launched

Law enforcement is investigating threats against at least one nurse at Vancouver, Wash.-based PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, according to The Lund Report.

On Jan. 18, PeaceHealth, the hospital's parent system, learned of threats posted to a TikTok video, according to a hospital statement shared with Becker's

It is unclear how many nurses received threats. The hospital statement references threats against one unidentified caregiver in the emergency department at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. A Jan. 22 news release from the Washington State Nurses Association states that emergency department nurses at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center received death threats over information written in a patient's chart.

Those comments on TikTok "have since been removed," the hospital said. "Once we were notified about this situation, we immediately contacted local law enforcement. We are continuing to work directly with them and share all relevant information."

Frank Ameduri, a spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Health, told The Lund Report that the agency knows about threats but doesn't have jurisdiction. A spokesperson for Vancouver Police told the newspaper the agency was unable to comment on the investigation. 

When contacted by Becker's, Amy Alexander, a spokesperson in the Seattle FBI office, declined to confirm or deny the agency's involvement.

"As a general matter, though, allegations of criminal conduct are reviewed by the FBI for their merit, with consideration of any applicable federal laws," Ms. Alexander said. "Such a review does not necessarily result in the opening of an investigation but, when warranted, we take any actions appropriate to the matter, which could include seeking further information or referring the matter to a partner agency."

The incident comes amid increased violence against healthcare workers. 

States across the U.S. require employers to implement a workplace violence prevention program. However, "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 [to] keep themselves and their loved ones safe," the union said in its release.

The union also said 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."

PeaceHealth said PeaceHealth Southwest has enhanced campus security and continues to maintain its weapons detection program upon entry into the emergency department.

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