No one would dispute the fact that healthcare workers face multiple dangers, including potential chemical and drug exposures, biological and respiratory hazards, risks associated with laboratories, radioactive material and x-ray, among others. But few have spoken about one of the most common risks: workplace violence.
Healthcare workers face a challenge when dealing with workplace violence
80% of serious violent incidents reported in healthcare settings were caused by interactions with patients according to OSHA. Although risks factors may vary by healthcare setting, the most common ones are:
- Working with people who have a history of violence or may be delirious or under influence of drugs.
- Working alone.
- Lack of means of emergency communication.
- Working in neighborhoods with high criminal rates.
- Long wait times and overcrowded waiting rooms.
- Lifting, moving and transporting patients.
- Poor environmental designs that may block vision or escape routes.
- Poor lighting in hallways or exterior areas.
- Lack of training and policies for staff.
- Understaffing at certain hours (for example, during mealtimes or visiting hours).
- Unrestricted public access.
- Perception that violence is accepted and therefore reporting will have no effects.
Where does violence occur?
Anywhere in the healthcare facility, but the most frequent areas are:
- Psychiatric wards.
- Emergency rooms.
- Waiting rooms.
- Geriatric Units.
- Parking Lots
One of the best ways shown to protect workers, patients, clients, contractors, visitors (and anyone else that may come in contact with employees) is to set up a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence. This should be written down and ensure that all participants know that all claims of workplace violence will be investigated.
In addition to developing policies against workplace violence, panic buttons and other safety devices can help healthcare leadership keep employees safe during threatening situations like violence. Safety wearables like the The Kwema Smart Badge™ allows healthcare staff to quickly activate a security protocol when in danger and send their exact indoor location which reduces the response time. Employees just have to hold a duress button for three seconds to quickly contact your security staff, reducing injuries, saving precious time, and increasing the sense of safety in any healthcare facility.