Confronting Workplace Violence Head-On: How to Make Healthcare Safer for Everyone

Workplace violence is a recognized hazard in healthcare, and the industry has faced a significant uptick in incidents in recent years. In fact, a 2018 study indicated that healthcare staff are five times as likely to suffer a workplace violence injury than workers overall.

The issue goes beyond threats against healthcare workers from patients or families — it also includes staff-on-staff events, bias-driven issues and external threats from the community. Some healthcare organizations have responded to this rise in workplace violence by implementing increased security measures to better protect patients and providers. 

But this approach only serves as a band-aid to a deeply complex issue. Instead, organizations will require a systematic approach to truly ensure the safety and well-being of everyone in their care.

Unlocking the power of technology to tackle the root causes of workplace violence.

An important starting point for healthcare organizations is implementing workplace violence initiatives backed by legislation — such as H.R. 1195, which focuses on preventing workplace violence in healthcare and social services settings. Prompted by the high prevalence of healthcare-oriented incidents, The Joint Commission has also published their own guidance around workplace violence prevention standards.

While guidance is certainly valuable, organizations need more than advice to effectively address and mitigate the risk of violence. They require concrete tools and resources that can help them implement material changes within their workplaces. To truly make a difference, a proactive and multifaceted approach is necessary. 

Here are five action items that can help organizations create a safer, more secure workplace for their employees:

Capturing incident data in a centralized platform provides healthcare organizations with the ability to quickly and easily report incidents of violence or aggression. With this centralized data, health systems can identify patterns and trends, enabling them to streamline processes and take proactive measures to mitigate the impact of future issues. Incident reporting software also allows organizations to generate reports and dashboards that are useful in communicating at both the local and system-wide level, as well as in presenting data to executive leadership. Additionally, these reports can be useful for compliance and regulatory efforts, accreditation standard management and the design and enforcement of organizational policies.

  • Conduct formal root cause analysis (RCA) after every incident of workplace violence

By conducting a formal RCA after a workplace violence incident, organizations can demonstrate a bold and proactive commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of their patients and employees. RCA enables organizations to delve deeper into the underlying factors that may have contributed to the event, such as workplace culture, employee training and physical security measures.

By identifying these root causes, organizations can then take concrete steps to address specific issues, mitigate risks and prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. This not only creates a safer and more secure work environment, but it also builds trust and confidence among employees that their organization is committed to their safety and well-being.

  • Ensure compliance and enhance safety measures

Effective workplace violence prevention programs require compliance with regulations and accreditation standards. Compliance with new regulatory efforts and organizational policies is essential for workplace violence prevention. Implementing a robust policy management solution can help organizations create, monitor and update policies and procedures, while also empowering teams to stay up to date with best practices — as well as comply with new and changing regulations and guidelines — by linking them directly to regulatory mandates as they are implemented.

  • Prevent and mitigate emerging issues before they escalate

Implementing a proactive approach to workplace violence prevention is crucial to creating a safe and secure work environment. Organizations should prioritize the development and implementation of preventative measures, including policies, training programs and risk assessments. By identifying potential risks and vulnerabilities, organizations can take targeted actions to address and prevent workplace violence before it occurs.

  • Empower staff with support resources and preventative training

Organizations must prioritize the well-being of their staff, especially in high-stress and high-risk environments like healthcare. Providing staff with comprehensive training and resources for preventing and addressing workplace violence can make a significant difference in their ability to navigate challenging situations with confidence and composure. From de-escalation techniques to proper reporting procedures, staff must have access to the tools and knowledge necessary to prevent and respond to incidents of violence. 

It is also essential to ensure staff have access to peer support programs, as incidents often lead to added stress, anxiety and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Peer support programs can provide employees with a safe and supportive environment to discuss their experiences and feelings with peers who have endured similar situations.

Healthcare workers have chosen to dedicate their lives to serving others. However, it is unfair to expect them to neglect their own well-being while providing care to their patients. Like any other employee, they deserve to work in an environment that is safe, secure and supportive. By acknowledging and addressing the challenges they face, we can create a culture of empathy and compassion that benefits healthcare providers and the patients they serve. 

While there’s no way to completely eliminate violence in the workplace, the right tools and technology can help foster a more formalized approach — providing greater flexibility to adjust response based on the situation at-hand, informing strategic coverage to ensure the right measures are in place and delivering insights that help to inform future learnings and strategies. 

By having the right technology in place, health systems not only align with regulations and best practices but also empower their organizations to better protect patients, staff and everyone who walks through their doors.

Help your organization improve its approach to workplace violence and discover how RLDatix can provide the necessary tools and strategies to mitigate risk and respond more effectively. Learn more.

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