Like the beat of a constant drum, everyone in the healthcare industry has heard it. Violence against healthcare workers is rising. Violence against healthcare workers is a real threat. Read through industry and security journals, and it’s a regular theme. Pick up any newspaper, and it’s often front-page news of the worst kind: Doctor Killed or Nurses Attacked. In fact, according the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to the general working population, healthcare and social assistance workers are five times more likely to become the victim of a violent act. But what is being done to protect our healthcare workers?
Protection from the StatesThe problem of violence occurring in our healthcare facilities can no longer be ignored, and states are now stepping up and taking action. After two nurses were stabbed in separate incidences in Los Angeles-area hospitals and a shooting took place in Daly City, the California legislature decided to take action. Late last year, they passed a bill requiring hospitals put in place “comprehensive workplace violence prevention plans.”
Under the law which went into effect January 2015, hospitals must evaluate staffing levels to “determine if insufficient staffing contributes to a risk of violence.” They must also assess their security systems and analyze security risks associated with specific areas and units of the hospital as well as various work shifts. In addition, the facility must be aware of other risk areas on the campus including employee parking.
Other states are also upping the ante. Illinois and New Jersey are among states with laws similar to California’s new law. Upwards of 25 states hand down tougher criminal penalties to people who attack healthcare workers. Tennessee is a case in point with the governor recently signing a bill that provides healthcare workers with the same protections as law enforcement officers.
Protection from FacilitiesAre facilities responsible for protecting their staff? OSHA seems to think so. The agency recently cited a Brooklyn, New York hospital for “not adequately protecting its employees from violence.” And nurses are crying out for facilities to take action. A recent study by the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) said nurses “feel unprepared to recognize cues indicating a person has a high potential for violence.” The ENA is asking for more training for nurses. They believe nurses would benefit from learning how to identify risk and recognizing when a situation is about to escalate.
And healthcare facilities are responding. For instance, hospitals in Minnesota are establishing “new safety protocols,” including using paintball fields to practice active shooting drills. Boston hospitals are implementing similar programs and will be providing video training on how to deal with active shooter situations.
Since quality care is dependent on a safe and secure environment, hospitals need to continue to do all they can to protect their staff. Healthcare workers who feel insecure in their own environment are more likely to have a difficult time providing the best care. Though hospitals still need to be welcoming, it’s essential that hospitals engage with everyone who enters their facility. With IntelliCentrics , healthcare workers will know that that every person who comes through the door has gone through a thorough, but relevant, screening and verification process based on their role.
States, facilities, healthcare workers and other healthcare organizations need to continue to work together and find new ways to stop violence against our healthcare workers. We need to ensure the safety of the very people who work every day to save us.