Duke University Health System COO calls for civility after attack on nurse

The COO of Durham, N.C.-based Duke University Health System is calling for an end to the "ugly epidemic of violence" against healthcare workers and civility from the public following a recent attack on an emergency room nurse.

Craig Albanese, MD, executive vice president and COO of Duke University Health System, expressed these thoughts in an opinion piece published Aug. 8 in The Charlotte Observer.

In the article, Dr. Albanese acknowledged increased incidents of workplace violence at healthcare facilities during the pandemic, including one in July where a patient allegedly attacked an emergency room nurse at Duke Raleigh (N.C.) Hospital, which left her unconscious and with facial fractures. Police arrested a patient in connection with the incident.

The attack prompted Duke University Health System to intensify security. Dr. Albanese said the organization has also increased staff training and posted signage "to remind patients and visitors that aggressive behaviors are not tolerated."

"To be clear: Being abused is not part of the job and we advocate zero tolerance for violent outbursts against healthcare workers," Dr. Albanese wrote.

"To the public, we are pleading for civility. We urge everyone to exercise patience, compassion and empathy when seeking care in a hospital, clinic or physician's office," he wrote. "We are there to help to the best of our abilities. Our teams cannot do their best when facing verbal threats, harassing comments, obstinance, biting, slapping and other forms of physical and emotional abuse that erupt with alarming regularity. This needs to stop."

Dr. Albanese also urged Congress to enact a bill, called the Safety From Violence for Healthcare Employees Act, to protect healthcare workers from violence that is modeled after protections for aircraft and airport workers.

He concluded: "With the public's support — including the individual actions of each person who becomes a patient or patient's advocate in the healthcare setting — we are confident we can eradicate this ugly epidemic of violence against healthcare workers."

Read the full article here

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