Healthcare Facilities Implement New Policies to Protect Employees from Acts of Violence

Healthcare facilities are beginning to address the rise of violence against employees with new protection policies.

By Mackenna Moralez, Associate Editor
February 16, 2023

More hospitals and other healthcare facilities are beginning to address the recent increase in violence against its workers. Acts of violence and harassment in hospitals and other healthcare facilities have reportedly increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare workers are four times more likely to fall victim to verbal of physical abuse than other industry, according to a study by The Joint Commission. That number could be even higher as many incidents go unreported.  

Over the last year, employees have begun to wonder if employers were able to keep them safe while at work. A report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare workers experienced 73 percent of all nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses due to violence in 2018. Now, employees are fed up with the constant abuse and are willing to quit over these types of actions, according to a survey by Critical Care Medicine. 

Southwestern Vermont Healthcare has created a new policy that is widely posted throughout its campus prohibiting acts of abuse against its employees.  

The new policy states: 

"Southwestern Vermont Healthcare does not tolerate abusive or violent behavior, including: 

  • Threatening language 
  • Foul language 
  • Sexual comments 
  • Physical violence 
  • Inappropriate touching 

These behaviors compromise the safety of patients, visitors, and staff and will result in removal from this facility and/or prosecution to the fullest extent of the law." 

“Southwestern Vermont Health Care is committed to a care community that respects and recognizes the value of human diversity, including race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or expression, age, socio-economic status, national origin, sexual orientation, veteran status, disability and religion,” Trey Dobson, chief medical officer and a board-certified emergency department physician at SVHC said in a press release. “Being physically assaulted, intimidated or verbally harassed will no longer be tolerated as ‘part of the job’ at our community hospital and practices.” 

Southwestern Vermont Healthcare isn’t the only hospital to take a stand against violence within the facility. Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA)’s Board of Trustees endorsed the United Code of Conduct Principles, which include measures to promote a safe and respectful environment, examples of what potential violations look like, proposed consequences for the violations and recommendations for maintaining the principles long term.  

The hospital has also filed comprehensive violence prevention legislation at the State House as the new legislative session begins.  

“Healthcare workers are under more pressure than at any time in history, and violence will never be a part of their job description,” Steve Walsh, President & CEO of MHA said in a press release. “Hospital and health system leaders recognize this, and are doing everything in their power to mitigate unacceptable behavior in their facilities. But they cannot do it without the help and support of community members. This effort is about taking a stand for the wellbeing of caregivers in a way that every one of us can control.” 

Mackenna Moralez is the associate editor of the facilities market.  




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