The Joint Commission earlier this month released an alert urging hospitals to address the problem of workplace violence and offering seven steps toward solving the problem.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) data show that health care workers are four times more likely to be victims of workplace violence than those in private industry overall. According to OSHA, 75% of the almost 25,000 workplace assaults reported each year occur in health care and social service facilities.
In its alert, the Commission said health care workers and organizations need to do better at reporting and preventing workplace violence, emphasizing that health care workers should not dismiss verbal or physical abuse as "part of the job."
The Commission outlined seven steps that health care workers and organizations can take:
A spokesperson for the Commission said that the steps should be taken as recommendations. If an employee faces violence, however, employers are required to take action.
Ana Pujols McKee, EVP and CMO of the Commission, said, "We encourage our accredited organizations to use the alert to help their health care workers recognize violence from patients and visitors, become prepared to handle it, and more effectively address the aftermath" (Dickson, Modern Healthcare, 4/20; Gregory, HealthExec, 4/20).
Many hospitals and health systems have invested in increased security, adding personnel, video surveillance, metal detectors, and other infrastructure to keep staff and patients safe. But despite these precautions, violent acts are still commonplace at the point of care. These incidents can escalate quickly to threaten the safety of frontline staff.
You can't stop all patients and families from acting aggressively, but you can ensure the right response is ready when your staff need it—which both help keep your staff safe and helps them feel safer, improving their ability to provide safe, effective care.
One key is to reduce the response time to routine point-of-care threats. For example, ensure that during security's existing patrols, they hold structured check-ins with unit staff. By proactively asking staff about potential and real safety threats, security can more readily identify and prioritize hotspots during their ongoing patrols. Then, when a crisis arises and staff needs their support the most, security will be well-positioned to respond.
To learn more about point-of-care violence and other factors that undermine nurse resilience, download our infographic, "Cracks in the Foundation Undermine Nurse Resilience."
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