Healthcare settings are seeing a pattern of dangerous events in their facilities. Unfortunately, these incidents of workplace violence are becoming more common for healthcare facilities and their staff.
According to CBS News, a domestic dispute at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center involving a 37-year-old woman, identified as Firdousi Abdul-Hakim, turned violent when she slashed two nurses and a medical resident. The hospital workers sustained lacerations but were in stable condition after treatment in the emergency room. No one else was injured, but some pediatric ICU patients were transferred to nearby hospitals. The incident is under investigation.
An integral part of starting to face these violent scenarios is to get staff to understand and accept the reality that no healthcare facility is immune to potential workplace violence, according to a case study from the American Hospital Association (AHA).
Once staff have accepted this reality, steps can then be taken to mitigate or outright prevent violent incidents. One method is to put in place policies regarding employee abuse, as Southwestern Vermont Healthcare did for its facilities.
Their 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."
However, mitigation does not end there, as there are still many ways a healthcare facility can ensure the safety and security of its staff.
As previously reported on Healthcare Facilities Today, Lisa Terry, vice president of vertical markets-healthcare at Allied Universal Security Services, laid out five steps that healthcare settings can take to control workplace violence:
Engagement: Security within a facility involves a variety of interested stakeholders both in and out of a healthcare organization. Engaging staff, leadership and external partners in the process requires collaboration between normally siloed groups and emphasizing the benefits of a safe and secure work environment.
Resources: Consult available resources on violence prevention, such as those offered by OSHA, the AHA, or The Joint Commission. In addition, supporting these resources means encouraging staff to report violent incidents and implementing a system to process these reports.
Threat Mitigation: Defining what a threat of violence is in the healthcare workplace is integral. From there, staff can better understand what these threats look like in order to mitigate them. Additionally, processes for identifying, assessing, validating, and responding must be put in place to support threat mitigation.
Training: Train healthcare staff on non-escalation and de-escalation, proper usage of personal protection equipment, and onboarding. Providing staff with refreshers for their training is also crucial.
Review: Go back and look over the steps that have been taken. Look for any improvements that can be made. Do this on an ongoing basis.
Jeff Wardon, Jr. is the assistant editor for the facilities market.