Violent actions in the workplace are ever present in the news these days. It is becoming more and more common to hear of violent actions performed against healthcare workers in all the various healthcare environments. Due to the nature of our jobs, we tend to be placed at greater risk than many other professions. 

In the recent news: Hospital patient attacks nurses injuring one who has fallen in the hallway; Angry patient on shooting spree fatally injures hospital employee; Patient kicks staff member which results in a fall and pelvic fracture. As a nurse myself, I have been kicked, pinched, spit on, yelled at, and threatened by angry patients and/or family members. This is not an isolated occurrence, according to OSHA, healthcare workers face a significant risk of violence in the workplace. 

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics state healthcare workers report the most nonfatal workplace violence with up to 50% of all reported assaults in workplace attributed to the healthcare environment. We must be attuned to the risk factors and be able to readily identify the hazards when present. We should also be providing safety training and education for staff on how to avoid situations that could lead to potential violence and be able to redirect and de-escalate when faced with a potentially violent and/or threatening patient or family member.

According to OSHA’s “Guides for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers” best practice is to identify the risk factors and develop proactive plans. Many facilities have already taken measures to secure certain areas of their buildings during night time hours, added security video, panic alarms, and staffed with security guards. The risk of violence not only comes from patients, disgruntled families, and residents, but from public knowledge that healthcare institutions also house pharmaceuticals.

Violence prevention programs in healthcare institutions are becoming the norm. They require a cooperative agreement between management and active participation of all employees to ensure success. All staff must work together to identify areas and situations of concern. Quick response teams can redirect a potentially violent situation before it gets out of control.

  • A good program will train
  • Be able to rapidly identify a potentially dangerous situation                                                                                      
  • Have a mechanism in place to alert and respond quickly                                                                                                
  • Address the situation in a manner to prevent injury                                                                                                                                            
  • Be able to minimize the effect on all parties                                                                                                            
  • Evaluate and learn to improve

Take the time to review the information that will provide the education and training your staff needs to react in a serious and potentially violent situation. A quick search of the web will provide several resources. Attached below is the link to OSHA guidelines.

Resource: www.osha.gov  Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Services