"Unfortunately, it is a trend. And its continuing. Hospitals have got to step up to help keep their staff safe."
Healthcare providers continuously push for patient safety improvements that adhere to the standard of care. Despite being stretched thin by a staffing crisis and the recent pandemic, U.S. doctors and nurses still report feeling optimistic and motivated to deliver quality care. With providers looking out for patients, who is looking out for the providers?
Surprisingly, healthcare workers face more workplace injuries from violence than any other profession, with over 76% percent of injury claims coming from the sector in 2020. And this trend is worsening. According to Forbes, nurses report a 44% increase in physical workplace violence. Here are the ways hospitals are taking action to protect staff.
According to Candace Eden from the Joint Commission, Tampa General Hospital installed a weapons detection system at all facility entrances. Since the 2015 deadly shooting of a social worker on the premises, patients and guests may not enter if they have weapons on their person. Additionally, staff began training a dog named Stone to further help with detecting weapons to prevent violence. As a result of their efforts, Security Magazine ranked them 30th in the nation for hospital security.
Loma Linda University Medical Center in California reimagined security using intelligent floor design. All guests entering the facility must pass through an access point in the lobby, which Forbes notes is rare for a large campus like Loma Linda. Additionally, there is no direct access to patient care floors from the parking lot entrance in an attempt to prioritize the safety of patients and their providers. Panic buttons and reinforced hinges further enhance security. Another hospital, Mass General Brigham, directed its efforts at unruly patients by adopting a universal patient code of conduct. The policy prohibits all physical, verbal, and sexual harassment on its grounds. In addition, to give weight to its approach, the hospital may refuse future non-emergency care to violators.
In many cases, violent events stem from grief-stricken or intoxicated family members lashing out. Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine taught all staff and medical student de-escalation techniques to address this. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, these strategies cannot prevent more severe instances of violence but can effectively reduce harassment.
The AAMC notes the strides in workplace safety made by the Veterans Health Administration. They take a stratified approach to violence and training. Staff that is only likely to face verbal harassment are trained accordingly, while employees facing the most serious danger of violence are equipped with physical intervention and self-defense skills. This way, the VA can protect its staff while allocating resources efficiently.
In her discussion with Medplace, Joint Commission consultant Candace Eden stressed that hospital administrators need to do everything they can to protect staff and patients from violence because healthcare violence has a compounding effect.
Nurses don't want to go into the profession if they see this is happening. We already have staffing issues - we cannot afford to lose young nurses coming into the profession if they're afraid of being hurt on the job.
Accrediting bodies and collaborative organizations may be crucial in preventing events like those at Tampa General by making violence-preventing measures standard in quality surveys. Already, the Joint Commission released a new set of definitions of workplace violence expanded to include types of harassment along with new standards for prevention. In addition, recent legislation like the Safety from Violence for Healthcare Act set aside funding for hospital safety and security guidelines. As a result, failing to protect staff adequately could have financial penalties soon.
Protect patients and reduce friction in the claims process. See how your organization can benefit by downloading the Medplace Early Resolution Toolkit.