Three Keys to Preventing Workplace Violence

This article originally appeared in the June issue of Patient Safety Monitor Jounal.

This spring, Ann Scott Blouin, RN, PhD, FACHE, executive vice president of The Joint Commission, wrote a blog post detailing the need for a practical approach to healthcare’s endemic workplace violence (WPV) problem.

In 2013, more than 70% of the 23,000 significant injuries resulting from workplace assault happened in healthcare and social service settings. In 2014, a survey found that 76% of nurses have experienced verbal or physical abuse from patients and visitors. And in 2015, data published by the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety discovered a 4% rise in hospital assaults, from 7.8 assaults per 100 beds in 2014 to 8.1 the following year.

“Incidents of workplace violence are increasing in many healthcare settings, but hospital workers are especially vulnerable to aggressive behaviors,” wrote Blouin. “It stands to reason. After all, especially for nurses or physicians, we’re the ones sometimes delivering upsetting news to patients and families. For nurses like myself, it’s a sad fact that violence has unfortunately become more common. In fact, many of The Joint Commission’s Office of Quality and Patient Safety staff are registered nurses and are all too familiar with the reality of a patient or family encounter gone awry. This often occurs in the emergency department or behavioral health, but violence is occurring in long term care, outpatient care, and home care.”

In 2016, The Joint Commission launched a digital resource center aimed at reducing WPV in healthcare settings. The Workplace Violence Prevention Resources site is full of easy-to-use policies, procedures, guidelines, research, case studies, white papers, and toolkits on topics such as:

•    Violent and criminal event preparedness and prevention
•    Active shooter situations
•    Workplace safety measures
•    Behavioral threat management
•    Emergency operations planning
•    Rudeness and bullying

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