Combining challenging medical issues with extreme emotions in a highly active, 24-hour environment is proving to be a recipe for violence. Based on this formula, a hospital with its emergency rooms, intensive care units and behavioral health areas is at obvious risk.
However, violent acts against healthcare personnel are also being committed at smaller facilities such as surgery centers. In fact, just this past November, a patient visitor killed a nurse and wounded four others at a surgery center in Texas.
According to a November 2013 StarTribune article, “Federal workplace injury data show that doctors, nurses and mental health workers are more likely than other workers to be assaulted on the job. The share of health care employees who missed work due to injuries caused intentionally by others was 6.5 per 10,000 workers in 2011 — four times the overall U.S. rate”. Even though advances in technology have improved security in healthcare settings, violent acts against healthcare workers are still increasing.

With the countless number of visitors entering and exiting a hospital every day, maintaining a safe environment for patients and staff is a daunting, highly complex task. So, what is the solution?
Hospitals and other healthcare institutions are taking proactive steps to protect their employees. Some are conducting shooter drills to teach hospital staff how to react during active shooter events. Others are teaching employees how to better communicate with those who are upset or angry and how to position themselves so they have a greater chance of escape if caught in a room with a violent person. Some facilities are even giving staff security-alerting pendants to wear around their necks so they can call for help at the first sign of trouble.
Staying current with safety training is essential to reducing violence in healthcare settings. Keeping safety in the forefront of everyone’s mind with recurrent training will give staff the tools they need to handle a violent situation.
By requiring safety training and background checks, hospitals can leverage a comprehensive compliance management system to increase safety; however, it also demands a team committed to managing that system without compromise. In a Homeland Security News Wire article dated January, 2012, Bryan Warren, currently director of corporate security at Carolinas Healthcare System and immediate past president of the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety stated, “You have to get everyone involved to increase that collaborative environment. Anything can happen anywhere. We need to get out of the mindset that if it hasn’t happened yet, it won’t.”
Learn the steps leaders in the healthcare industry can undertake to create a culture of safety. Download “10 Things Healthcare Leaders Must Do to Create a Culture of Safety.”


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