Statistics show that stress increases in late Fall through the first part of the New Year. For whatever reason, workplace violence also increases, particularly in healthcare settings. It is becoming more and more common to hear of violent actions performed against healthcare workers in all the various healthcare environments. Due to the nature of our jobs, we tend to be placed at greater risk than many other professions.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics state healthcare workers report the most nonfatal workplace violence incidents. Up to 50% of all reported assaults in workplace are attributed to the healthcare environment. We must be attuned to the risk factors and be able to readily identify the hazards when present. Recognition and prevention is the key. We should also be providing safety training and education for staff on how to avoid situations that could lead to potential violence and be able to redirect and de-escalate when faced with a potentially violent and/or threatening patient or family member.
News headlines have read: Hospital patient attacks nurses injuring one who has fallen in the hallway; Angry patient on shooting spree fatally injures hospital employee; Patient kicks staff member resulting in fractures. Understandably, according to OSHA, healthcare workers face a significant risk of violence in the workplace.
Ideally you should develop proactive plans that include early recognition of risk factors and how to get help. When faced with an uncomfortable situation, always leave an exit away from the threat. Avoid getting boxed in a room where you would need to approach and go past the threat to exit. Many facilities have already taken measures to secure and lock certain areas of their buildings during night time hours, added security video, panic alarms, and staffed with security guards. The risk of violence not only comes from patients, disgruntled families, and residents but from public knowledge that healthcare institutions also house Pharmaceuticals.
OSHA “Guides for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers” is a great tool to assist with development of a violence prevention program. For your plan to succeed you must have a commitment from all employees.
OSHA suggests your program contain the following components:
A good program will train.
Be able to rapidly identify a potentially dangerous situation.
Have a mechanism in place to alert and respond quickly.
Address the situation in a manner to prevent injury.
Be able to minimize the effect on all parties.
Evaluate and learn to improve.
www.osha.gov Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Services