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Workplace Violence in Hospital Settings

Physical violence against healthcare workers occurs at an alarming rate of four times the rate of occurrences in the general workforce. It is a widespread problem and affects healthcare workers in nearly all work environments, hospital settings in particular. Assaults from patients, families, and visitors can occur in the form of intimidation, harassment, stalking, beatings, and in severe cases, stabbing, gunshots, and rape. Prevention in any workplace begins with a complete and comprehensive Violence Prevention Program.

Components of a Violence Prevention Program

A Written Violence Prevention Plan

  • Incorporates all components in written format and states clear goals and objectives
  • Creates and disseminates a clear policy that violence, in any form, will not be tolerated
  • Ensures that no reprisals are taken against employees who report or experience workplace violence
  • Encourages prompt reporting and recordkeeping of all incidents of violence
  • Establishes a plan for maintaining security in the workplace and includes law enforcement

Management and Employee Commitment

  • Establishes the basis for management and employees to work together to reduce workplace violence
  • Communicates the policy that violence, threats, harassment, intimidation, and other disruptive behavior in the workplace will not be tolerated
  • Outlines management’s plan for providing the motivation and resources required to deal effectively with workplace violence, allocating authority, and enforcing accountability
  • Ensures that employees understand, support, and participate in the prevention program

Worksite Analysis & Hazard Prevention

  • Identifies potential workplace hazards, such as availability of drugs, low staffing levels, mentally unstable or confused patients, or a high-crime location
  • Provides controls for potential hazards, such as better lighting, metal detectors, plexi-glass instead of glass, surveillance cameras, or controlled access systems

Safety and Health Training

  • Educates employees on violence prevention strategies and policies and should be conducted by individuals with experience and specialty in the field
  • Builds interaction with prevention program facilitators and promotes early intervention
  • Includes training on the facility’s prevention program and key program members, methods for recognizing and diffusing volatile situations, and established facility security procedures

Post-Incident Response

  • Provides a program of support for workers who are involved in or witness violent incidents
  • Initiates a trained response team that provides prompt medical and psychological assistance and includes follow-up care such as counseling and support services

Evaluation and Recordkeeping

  • Facilitates evaluation of problem severity, assessment of hazard controls, and identification of training needs
  • Includes documentation of employee training and information related to incidents of violence such as abuse, medical injury, and patient-related actions

For more information on incident management, refer to:

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