According to April’s New England Journal of Medicine, “…three out of four workplace assaults occur in the health care setting” (Winter, 2006). What leads to this disproportionate frequency of workplace violence incidents happening in the healthcare sector? While there is no scientific consensus as to the causal factors, anecdotally, the answer lies in the very nature of healthcare’s services. Delivering personalized medical services to those in depressed physical, emotional or psychological states inherently increases the opportunities for these types of events. The article also brings to light a common mindset that we must all work to overcome. The mindset of “it is just part of the job” or “the patient didn’t really mean to act out” has led to both acceptance of this exposure and likely underreporting of such incidents.
The question remains, what do can we do to mitigate this exposure?
Second, your organization’s workplace violence program should focus on how to properly respond to physical and verbal aggression. Staffs’ response can dramatically affect the overall outcome of both patient and staff safety. Policies and procedures that are clearly defined and understood for handling a workplace violence incident is an essential element to a risk management program.
Lastly, focus on what needs to be reported and when. With the passage of SB-1299 in the State of California, the reporting criterion is becoming more clearly defined. While the Cal-OSHA Standards Board has not yet provided its regulatory ruling, they are expected to do so in the next 2-3 months. Upon the release of this information, ALPHA Fund’s Loss Prevention team will publish an article to help assist you in addressing any necessary changes your organization may need to make to comply with the ruling.
ALPHA Fund’s Loss Prevention team stands ready to assist you in raising awareness of workplace violence mitigation strategies. For more information please contact us at (800) 266-6100.
Health Care Employees Bear Brunt of Workplace Assaults, Research Finds. Dr. Winter, Gretchen; April 27, 2016. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/health-care-employees-bear-brunt-workplace-assaults-research/story?id=38704222
Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care. General Industry Safety Orders, New Section 3342. https://www.dir.ca.gov/oshsb/Workplace-Violence-Prevention-in-Health-Care.html
Addressing Violence in the Health Care Workplace. Thompson, Pamela R.N. July 2015. http://hhnmag.com/articles/3365-addressing-violence-in-the-health-care-workplace