Hospital settings create high levels of stress for patients, their families and friends, as well as employees of the organization. Stress combined with fear of the unknown and illness become major contributors to agitation and aggression from patients and family members toward healthcare staff. Additionally, hospitals are the go-to-resource for care and de-escalation of individuals with behavioral health issues.
Studies show violence against healthcare employees is more common that most people understand. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), 75% of the nearly 25,000 annual workplace assaults occurred in health care and social service settings. The National Crime Victimization Survey showed health care workers have a 20% percent greater chance of being the victim of workplace violence than other private industry settings. and advocacy groups say it’s time for policymakers to act on this growing but underreported problem.
Types of Workplace Violence
According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, there are 4 types of violence that can occur in the workplace:
1. An individual who is associated with the workplace or employee
2. A customer or patient
3. A current or former employee of the workplace
4. An individual that has a personal relationship with the employee but not the workplace
The second type of violence, is the most prevalent type in healthcare settings. While it’s hard to completely eliminate the threat of violence in any workplace, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the threat and number of incidents in health care facilities.
Greeting and Engaging Visitors
The entry points to healthcare organizations are effective points to establish a tone of safety and security with employees, patients, and visitors. At all points of entry, individuals entering the facility should be greeted and understand that safety and security is a priority. An effective methodology includes:
1. Reducing the number of access/entry points for visitors and vendors
2. Badge securing for all employee only entrances
3. Implementing an effective visitor management program
4. Securing access points with security officers for high risk areas
Visitor management programs are a great tool in managing patient family members and other visitors within the health care facility. A properly implemented program can:
· Identify individuals that should be restricted from entering the facility, for example individuals with criminal activity, sexual predator watch lists, etc.
· Identify individuals who have been previously been flagged for violence within the facility
· Track when individuals arrive and know who is within your facility
· Limit where individual can go and area’s they can access
· Inform staff who the individuals are and their purpose within the facility
· Restrict access points
· Communicate “house rules”
· Provide a positive and engaging experience to individuals entering the facility
· Alleviate concerns and be the first point of contact to de-escalate high stress situations
While an effective visitor management program won’t entirely reduce the number of workplace violence incidents it is an effective method to “set the stage” early with visitors that safety and security is a top concern for the organization. We invite you to take 15 minutes to learn more about how our solutions can impact change in your organization. If you’d like to discuss more, feel free to contact our team or call 770-777-6633