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AROUND THE MEDICAL CENTER :: WINTER 2014
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Programís goal is to keep ED staff out of harmís way


By Jennifer Wetzel
February 2012

With violence toward health care workers from patients and visitors on the rise inside emergency departments, personnel with Vanderbilt’s Adult Emergency Department are learning a new set of skills to keep them – and those they care for – safe.

Adult Emergency Department personnel are taking part in a personal safety training program called Handle with Care. Here, instructor Anthony Locklayer works with Katrina Peters, nurse resident, left, as she blocks a punch from McKeshia Crawford, care partner, during class.  Photo by Joe Howell.

Adult Emergency Department personnel are taking part in a personal safety training program called Handle with Care. Here, instructor Anthony Locklayer works with Katrina Peters, nurse resident, left, as she blocks a punch from McKeshia Crawford, care partner, during class. Photo by Joe Howell.

In April 2011, Vanderbilt’s Adult Emergency Department launched Handle with Care, a crisis intervention and behavioral management program which teaches verbal and physical intervention methods. The course instructs staff on how to de-escalate an out-of-control patient and protect themselves if they feel threatened.

Emergency departments across the country are faced with overcrowding, and patients often use emergency services in lieu of primary care physicians, just a few of the issues which can heighten frustration and lead to violent behavior, said Brent Lemonds, M.S., R.N., administrative director of Emergency Services for Vanderbilt. He also noted a connection to violence with an increase in psychiatric patients, as well as a high percentage of patients under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
Vanderbilt staff members Mike Malone, EMT, Anthony Locklayer, R.N., and Jacki Ashburn, R.N., volunteered to become certified Handle with Care instructors and have since led nearly 100 employees through the program.

The majority of the four-hour course teaches verbal de-escalation techniques. Instructors stress that verbal de-escalation is powerful and the goal is to avoid physical restraint when at all possible.

All current emergency staff completed the course by September, although Handle with Care classes will continue for new employees and recertification purposes.
 

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