Hospital Design with Workplace Violence in Mind

By By Dan Hounsell
March 5, 2021

Violence in healthcare facilities remains a top priority for managers maximize the safety of both staff and patients. The Joint Commission even recently proposed new and revised standards for workplace violence prevention in hospitals and critical access hospital accreditation programs.

The mission of healthcare is to heal and restore health, but that can be difficult to accomplish if the built environment is not designed with security in mind, according to Health IT Security. A safe environment is a major contributor to healing, yet violence generated by patients and visitors is increasing at astonishing rates. Improving security and safety in healthcare begins with design.

In June 2020, the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety published the third edition of Security Design Guidelines for Healthcare Facilities. The new edition places considerable attention on its updated guidance to help combat violence in healthcare using the built environment.  Specific emphasis was placed on the design of high-risk patient/observation rooms that might be used for disruptive or aggressive patients, those at risk for elopement, and forensic patient treatment. Specific guidance was created in the new edition for locked emergency psychiatric section of the emergency department.

New guidance also was developed for emerging areas within the healthcare environment including standalone emergency departments and behavioral health patient care settings, as well as urgent care and ambulatory surgical care facilities. A new chapter was created for residential long-term care facilities that address securing various settings that might be used in providing residential care.

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