The Ritz Herald
U.S. Capitol, Washington D.C. © Maria Oswalt

Emergency Department Nurses Take to Capitol Hill

Nurses are advocating for the passage of workplace violence and pediatric bills

Published on April 22, 2024

Emergency nurses are strong advocates for the laws and tools they need to be safe at work and sufficiently prepared to care for all their patients. Emergency nurses from nearly every state gathered in Washington, D.C., last week for the Emergency Nurses Association’s annual Day on the Hill advocacy event.

As part of Day on the Hill, ENA members called on Congress to reauthorize funding for the Emergency Medical Services for Children program and to pass laws aimed at reducing workplace violence in health care. Specifically, the EMSC Reauthorization Act (H.R. 6960/S. 3765) is an ENA priority this year because of its importance as the only federal program dedicated to improving emergency care for children. Authority for the EMSC program is set to lapse on Sept. 30 if Congress does not reauthorize it.

“It’s exciting to see so many ED nurses passionate about advocacy,” said ENA President Chris Dellinger MBA, BSN, RN, FAEN. “The EMSC reauthorization ensures that EDs and EMS personnel have access to appropriate medication, equipment, training, and systems through various grants aimed at improving care for pediatric patients.”

ENA also continues to be a leading voice for legislation aimed at reducing the frequency and severity of workplace violence against emergency nurses. The association supports the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 2663/S. 1176), which directs OSHA to require health care and social service employers to develop and implement workplace violence prevention plans that are worker-driven and comprehensive to ensure the safety of patients and workers. ENA also backs the Support the Safety From Violence for Healthcare Employees Act (H.R. 2584/S. 2768). There is currently no federal law that protects hospital employees from assault or intimidation. The SAVE Act would mirror protections for aircraft and airport workers and would allow extra tools for prosecutors to charge individuals threatening hospitals and their workers.

“We know workplace violence is a problem in the emergency department, but many times it goes unreported. This doesn’t give an accurate representation of how extensive it truly is,” said Dellinger. “Whether it’s verbal or physical assault, no one should go to work and expect that kind of treatment. Stronger statistics will allow our legislators to see how big this problem truly is.”

Assistant Managing Editor