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The Fight Against Workplace Violence in Healthcare. What You Need to Know!

Workplace Safety, Higher Education, Healthcare, Security, Corporate | 7 Min Read

The rise of workplace violence against healthcare workers is worrying.

While workplace violence is an issue across all industry sectors, the rate of violence toward healthcare workers is concerning. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), healthcare workers account for approximately 50% of all victims of workplace violence.  

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) recently surveyed 3500+ emergency room physicians and found that 71% reported witnessing an assault, while a staggering 47% of physicians reporting being physically assaulted themselves.  Even more concerning, 97% of physicians stated the main source of these assaults came from patients.

Whether the act of aggression was physical or verbal, these incidents can have a significant effect on the healthcare worker’s ability to care for patients and, victims of these incidents often suffer career-ending post-traumatic stress disorders.

 

The stand against workplace violence in healthcare.

On February 22, 2021, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) reintroduce the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers act (H.R. 1195), which passed the House vote on April 16, 2021.

“These workers are facing a disturbing level of violence,” Courtney said in a press release. “It’s happening in every congressional district across the country. They shouldn’t have to fear for their own lives while they’re at work trying to save ours.”

According to the Congress.Gov website, H.R. 1195 requires all health care and social service sector employers to provide the following:

  • Develop and implement a workplace violence plan to protect their employees
  • Investigate and document violence incidents as soon as possible
  • Provide annual training and education on workplace violence to employees
  • Maintain, for at least 5 years, detailed records of workplace violence risk, hazard assessment, and violent incidents
  • Submit annual summaries of all incidents to the Secretary of Labor

This bill also prohibits the act of discrimination or retaliation against employees for reporting workplace violence incidents, threats, or concerns.  This bill now moves to the US Senate for approval.

 

A step in the right direction

While the legislation for the Workplace Violence Prevention for Healthcare and Social Service Workers act is being discussed in Congress, the Joint Commission has started to put action into place regarding the safety of healthcare workers.

New and revised requirements addressing workplace violence prevention programs have been released by The Joint Commission and will be effective January 1, 2022, for all Joint Commission-accredited hospitals and critical access hospitals.

According to The Joint Commission’s website, these requirements will provide a framework for facilities to address the following:

  • Defining workplace violence
  • Leadership oversight
  • Worksite analysis
  • Developing policies and procedures for the prevention of workplace violence
  • Reporting systems, data collection, and analysis
  • Post-incident strategies
  • Training and education to decrease workplace violence

 

How will your organization address these new requirements and potential legislation?

There are several steps you can take to get ready for these new requirements.  Some of these steps include:

  • Working with your VP or Director of Protective Services (or senior-most Security Management person) on creating or revising a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan that meets the new requirements
  • Implementing a no retaliation policy so employees feel safe and encouraged to speak up about incidents
  • Provide training to employees on workplace violence
  • Develop a clear and easy to follow incident reporting policy
  • Get commitment from management and employees

While the above is only a handful of ideas to jump-start your workplace violence prevention program, one of the largest tasks is to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of your current incident reporting software.

Questions to ask during your software evaluation:

  • Do I have the ability to effectively access historical data?
  • Can we track workplace violence training?
  • Does our current software link incident reports to police records?
  • Can our current software alert us if a patient or visitor has had a prior incident?
  • Does our software have the ability to maintain records for at least 5 years?
  • When filling out a report, is the software easy to use for all parties?
  • Does our current system allow for corrective action measures to be stored on the same file?
  • Does our current system have the ability to easily share workplace violence statistical reporting with my leadership?

When evaluating your workplace prevention policy plan and the software you are going to use for incident reporting you need software that can capture, track, and trend all of your incidents, including verbal abuse and attempted assaults when no harm occurred, but in which a worker felt unsafe.

Omnigo has engineered a robust incident reporting software that meets the revised requirements issued by the Joint Commission. The software offers employees numerous methods of reporting workplace violence incidents, which in turn creates a cultural shift away from accepting workplace violence as the norm. Omnigo’s software solution provides quick and easy reporting options which can be linked from the employee intranet and accessible from any workstations, including a Computer On Wheels cart. To learn more or request a demo call: 866.426.2374 or Email: sales@omnigo.com

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