Hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities have been put on notice that they are responsible for protecting patients and healthcare workers from physical violence in the workplace. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently issued an alert on the issue.
"Workers in hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare settings face risks of workplace violence,” according to the CMS alert. “An April 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics Fact Sheet found that healthcare workers accounted for 73 percent of all nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses due to violence in 2018.
“Exposure to workplace violence hazards come at a high cost. However, with appropriate controls in place, it can be addressed. CMS will continue to enforce the regulatory expectations that patients and staff have an environment that prioritizes their safety to ensure effective delivery of healthcare.”
CMS outlined the responsibility of facilities owners and managers to ensure safety.
“It is incumbent on the leadership at these healthcare facilities to ensure they provide adequate training, sufficient staffing levels and ongoing assessment of patients and residents for aggressive behavior and indicators to adapt their care interventions and environment appropriately.”
CMS also highlighted cases in which systemic failures in facilities places both patients and staff at risk.
“CMS has cited hospitals in the past for failures to meet these obligations,” according to the alert. “Examples include: a nurse in a unit without adequate staffing who was sexually assaulted by a behavioral health patient who was stopped only through intervention by other patients; a patient who died after hospital staff and law enforcement performed a takedown that resulted in a hospital custodian holding the patient down on the floor with his knee against the patient’s back, during which the patient stopped breathing and died; and a patient who was acting out and shot in his hospital room by off-duty police officers following the failure of hospital staff to perform appropriate assessment and de-escalation of the patient.”