Violence prevention programs proliferate at hospitals

The University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore became a pioneer in hospital-driven violence intervention when it launched a coordinated anti-violence program in 1998. Now, it is one of roughly 30 hospitals in the U.S. with such an effort in place, according to Kaiser Health News.

Increasingly, healthcare experts are recognizing violence in the community and individuals' homes as a medical concern, and hospitals are recognizing it as an opportunity to connect patients with resources that may improve their lives and help shelter them from the violence that lands them in the emergency department.

"The hospitals are acting on the notion that keeping violent injury from recurring will ultimately reduce their expenses and improve people's long-term health. In other words, they increasingly view violence prevention programs as both good medicine and good business," according to the KHN report.

As one of the oldest programs in the country, UMMC violence intervention specialists have had years to hone their understanding of violence and how it affects people.

One such specialist, David Ross, has been with the program for nearly a decade, working with patients who present with violent injuries like stabbings, gunshot wounds or physical assault wounds. Mr. Ross identifies the factors that put the patient at risk, including a dysfunctional living situation, substance abuse, poverty or other social ills, and helps the patient access drug rehabilitation, education classes or whatever other medical and social support services they require.

Many hospitals that have added violence intervention programs in recent years have designed them to emulate UMMC's approach by having their intervention specialists sometimes serve as advocates for the patients within the medical and legal systems.

The decision to add anti-violence programs has been prompted and supported by a growing body of research that shows patients who suffer from a violent injury will likely end up returning to the hospital if they go back to the same environment after their first discharge, according to the report.

"There's been a groundswell of professionals understanding that this is a public health issue," Rochelle Dicker, MD, a trauma surgeon and professor at the University of California, San Francisco, who directs the UCSF Medical Center's violence prevention program, told KHN.

According to Dr. Dicker, a great deal of the growth in this area of medicine and healthcare has occurred just in the last five years.

For a list of hospital-based violence intervention programs, click here.



More articles on violence:
Physicians to Congress: Time to lift the 20-year-old ban on gun research
Kansas City hospital leads the way in combating violence
More than 1 in 4 US kids experience weapons violence: 5 study findings

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