You’re well aware of the increasing problem of workplace violence in healthcare. OSHA reports that hospitals are one of the most dangerous places to work, and, according to the 2021 IAHSS Crime Survey, hospital assaults hit an all-time high in 2020, with the assault rate increasing more than 23% from 2019.
The physical and psychological impact to victims is the clearest and most distressing consequence, with over 17% of nurses leaving their jobs every year because of workplace violence, according to a study published in the Journal of Occupational Health.
If those statistics weren’t staggering enough, organizations are facing significant consequences, as well. A study published by the American Hospital Association (AHA) estimated, “national in-facility violence costs of $428.5 million, including $234.2 million for staff turnover, $42.3 million in medical care and indemnity (compensation for lost wages made to employees who were injured on the job) for employee victims of violence, and $90.7 million in disability and absenteeism costs.”
For incidents of workplace violence to decrease, organizations need to provide the tools and training to mitigate it and cultivate a zero-tolerance culture.
Three Top Priorities for Developing an Effective Workplace Violence Prevention Program
OSHA provides detailed recommendations for developing an effective workplace violence prevention program, and IAHSS also has excellent resources for members. Some organizations, like The Joint Commission, have outlined requirements for workplace violence prevention programs that must be met for accreditation.
When reviewing the many recommendations and regulations various organizations offer, three recommendations stand out.
- Culture and Communication
The entire healthcare community needs to do their part to prevent workplace violence, and training is an essential empowerment tool. Everyone who works with or around patients must receive high-quality training to learn how to identify risk factors, practice de-escalation techniques, and protect themselves and exit when necessary.
For a safety training program to be successful, it has to feel relevant to the people being trained. The only people who truly understand what frontline workers encounter every day are the frontline workers, and it’s essential they’re included when you evaluate whether a program will meet organization needs.
Once chosen, implementing a relevant training program means tailoring the program even further to the employees being trained. For example, an ER physician might need a different kind of level or training than an orthopedic nurse.
Complete, efficient, and consistent reporting is the number one solution that enables all other workplace violence interventions to succeed.
You can’t know where your organization needs extra support or which intervention will be most effective if you don’t know exactly what’s happening, where it’s happening, when it’s happening, and why it’s happening. When you know exactly where and what the problems are, you can begin to develop an informed strategy for solving them.
Culture and Communication
Underreporting is a significant problem in the healthcare setting. As high as the reported numbers are, actual incidents of workplace violence are likely much higher than reports show. In fact, one study reported on by the ASIS Healthcare Security Council indicates that nurses only report 50% of workplace violence incidents, and researchers at Michigan State University estimate the number of injuries caused by workplace violence in healthcare could be three times the number actually reported.
Reporting must be encouraged, supported, and required.
To get the robust data your organization needs, it’s important to cultivate a culture of communication where you listen to every stakeholder and give everyone a place at the table. This will help you gain a more complete perspective of problems and possible solutions and encourage a culture where everyone feels responsible for creating a safer community.
Workplace Violence Preventions Programs May Soon Be Required Everywhere
With incidents of workplace in healthcare on the rise, it’s more important than ever that healthcare organizations develop robust, effective workplace violence prevention programs.
Contact us to learn how Omnigo can help support your workplace violence prevention programs or check out our comprehensive suite of solutions for the healthcare industry.