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How to Prevent Workplace Violence in Healthcare

tablet on a desk with medical equipment and supplies

Although healthcare is focused on healing, it can also be dangerous for the people working in it. Emotionally charged situations, people in pain, people under the influence, and more can all result in violence against healthcare professionals. This makes it essential for healthcare facilities to work to prevent workplace violence in healthcare.

This is made even clearer when there are 12.7 violent events per 10,000 full-time registered nurses, which is about three times greater than all occupations. There are several things facilities can do to help protect their staff and mitigate risk during the course of patent care. Here’s how to prevent workplace violence in healthcare:

1. Implement a Violence Prevention Program in Your Workplace

Workplace violence is a concern for healthcare and is one of the common security concerns for assisted living facilities as well. One of the obstacles when it comes to workplace violence prevention, especially in healthcare, is a lack of reporting.

Sometimes, this is because there are no clear policies for reporting or addressing these issues. Other times, lack of reporting can be because victims may not feel like anything will be done or they may fear retaliation from reporting. A violence prevention program can resolve these issues and provide the training and resources needed to reduce incidents of workplace violence.

Train Staff on De-Escalation Techniques

These programs generally involve some staff training regarding how to approach and handle situations when they occur. Educating staff on how to identify the potential for violence, training them in de-escalation techniques, and also teaching them how to seek assistance are essential parts of any workplace violence prevention program.

Doing these things can help staff work together to prevent violent events from occurring in the first place or respond more effectively to them to prevent injury to staff or the patient. Effective de-escalation and redirection techniques can also be part of developing a wander prevention plan in healthcare facilities and a strategy for soothing agitated residents who are anxious and wandering.

Establish Clear Policies and Procedures for Reporting

Establishing clear policies and procedures and following through with them can also help when it comes to reporting. Staff need to know your facility is supporting them and need to have clear steps to follow when a violent event occurs.

There should be clear policies in addition to a consistent and clear reporting structure for incidents of workplace violence. Policies, procedures, software, etc. for internal reporting and reporting to law enforcement should be easy to understand, consistent, and as clear as possible. These are all things to also look for in incident management software as you implement technology to help with your processes.

Provide Support for Your Staff

Your facility should be encouraging staff to press charges against people who assault healthcare workers. In addition, it should be clear that your facility will support its staff if they make a report to reduce the fear of retaliation.

Support programs and resources should be made available to staff who have experienced violent incidents. This helps them work through and cope with what happened and also helps to create a more supportive environment within your facility.

2. Use an Emergency Call System

An emergency call system is often considered a security system that helps increase patient safety. But, it helps protect nurses and staff as well. Being able to review, respond to, and update statuses on calls give staff the ability to call for help when needed. These are some of the biggest benefits of installing an emergency call system.

Paired with a patient classification system, an emergency call system can also help reduce workplace violence. Through identification and incident monitoring, if an alarm comes from a patient known for becoming violent or showing signs of becoming violent, staff can better respond and prevent an event from occurring.

3. Hire Enough Staff

Understaffing contributes to higher rates of workplace violence. Making sure you have enough staff to respond to calls and properly care for patients is essential and can go a long way in reducing incidents of workplace violence in healthcare.

Hiring enough staff is not limited to nurses; it also includes security personnel. You need to consider the risks to your staff and your facility’s needs, and then hire the appropriate number of security personnel with the right training to properly protect and support your nurses.

4. Restrict Movement with Access Control

Unrestricted movement of the public and of patients in healthcare facilities can lead to incidents of workplace violence. With access control solutions in place, movement can be restricted to authorized areas only and can prevent the public from wandering into unauthorized areas. You can use key cards, codes, biometric access control, and more to get the security levels you need.

5. Install Video Surveillance

Another way to help prevent workplace violence in healthcare is to make sure people know they are under video surveillance. Several of the best places to install security cameras in your business are also places that should be monitored in healthcare facilities.

There are several benefits of a comprehensive video surveillance system. Although security cameras will not prevent all incidents, they will act as a deterrent and can reduce violent acts. Should an event occur, video surveillance provides a record of the perpetrator and the event. This can be provided to law enforcement as evidence and retained in order to press charges and/or maintain a record.

6. Maintain an Incident Monitoring System

Tracking and recording incident reports in your facility are essential to preventing and reducing workplace violence in healthcare. This is one of the main reasons why you need incident management software. An incident monitoring system can integrate with your security measures and help you record details, maintain records, and identify trends and triggers for better risk management.

You could discover that violent events peak during a certain time of day, occur more often in a specific department, etc. By using insights you gain from the incidents reported in addition to “near misses”, you can take specific measures to address the causes and triggers of violent events. This can help you make the most of technologies that improve long-term care, see data specific to your facility, and can help reduce violent events moving forward.

Workplace violence, whether from patients, other staff, or visitors, is one of the common security threats and vulnerabilities of hospitals that a good, comprehensive security solution should address. These are just a few ways to prevent workplace violence in healthcare and are effective solutions for secure hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Some of them are internal processes and policies while others are security products and solutions.

A comprehensive security solution for your healthcare facility in addition to internal efforts can help increase staff and patient safety. Choosing the right security systems integrator can help you get the right mix of security products your facility needs.

If you’re evaluating security measures for your healthcare facility, contact NEPPS for a free site assessment!