Cleveland Clinic CEO: Violence 'epidemic' happening in hospitals nationwide — 4 takeaways

Incidents of workplace violence in the healthcare space between 2002 and 2013 were four times more common, on average, than in private industry overall, according to data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited by Crain's Cleveland Business.

Four things to know:

1. Violence against healthcare personnel has steadily increased in recent years. Cleveland Clinic CEO Tom Mihaljevic, MD, highlighted the issue during his annual State of the Clinic speech last month, calling the situation an "epidemic."

"There is a very fundamental problem in U.S. healthcare that very few people speak about, and that's the violence against healthcare workers. Daily, literally daily, we're exposed to violent outbursts, in particular in our emergency rooms," he said.

"It is an epidemic, because it is an epidemic that nobody speaks about. Yet it strains those who are trying to help others. It is very disconcerting to have well-meaning people who dedicated their lives and their careers being put in harm's way by trying to help others," he added during an interview after the speech.

2. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics documents incidence rates of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses, including intentional injury by another person. Crain's reports that of the 18,400 injuries reported in the private sector in 2017 to the bureau, 71 percent took place in a healthcare setting.

3 While the Cleveland Clinic and other hospitals and health systems have instituted various safety mechanisms to prevent violence, including metal detectors, additional security and the confiscation of weapons on hospital premises, the methods that work for some institutions may not work for others, the report states.

4. Cleveland-based University Hospitals COO Ron Dziedzicki, BSN, RN, told Crain's hospitals are not any different from other public locations, but must weigh those needs against the provision of care.

"I don't think hospitals are any different than churches or malls or movie theaters — except for hospitals, we are a provider of care. We save lives. So we have to balance the need to be able to have rapid access to care against that balance of safety for employees," he said.

To access the full report, click here.

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