New Resource Center Aims to Help Prevent Workplace Violence in Healthcare Settings

Ann Scott Blouin, RN, PhD, FACHE

According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those working in healthcare settings are 5 times more likely to be victims of nonfatal assaults or violent acts than the average worker in all other occupations. In response to these statistics, the Joint Commission has created an online portal to share information and resources focused on preventing workplace violence in healthcare settings with input from physicians, pharmacists, risk managers, and other healthcare professionals.

Workplace violence in healthcare is defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as any verbal, written, or physical aggression against healthcare professionals, patients, visitors, or others in a setting where healthcare is delivered.

This can include verbal, sexual, and physical assaults; stalking; intimate partner violence; and homicide.1 Workplace violence comes with consequences, sometimes severe, from major and minor physical injury, psychological harm, or even death.1

“Many of us in healthcare have witnessed or experienced workplace violence firsthand,” noted the Joint Commission’s Ann Scott Blouin, RN, PhD, FACHE, in a statement.

In fact, the most frequent victims of assaults are female nursing staff and psychiatric assistants.1 In fact, according to a 2014 Health Risk Appraisal by the American Nurses Association, 21% of registered nurses and nursing students reported being physically assaulted, and over 50% were verbally abused within a 12-month period.2

To help professionals prepare for and prevent those experiences, the Workplace Violence Prevention Resources center hosts slides from recent presentations by Joint Commission leaders, research reports done by the Joint Commission, newsletters featuring “Quick Safety” highlights, and blog posts.

External resources from other organizations, such as the Government Accountability Office, OSHA, the Crisis Prevention Institute, and more are also included. The Joint Commission encourages contributors and others to share materials to this resource for inclusion throughout its use.

Topics covered in the resources span issues as serious as violent and criminal event preparedness and prevention and active shooter situations, to everyday as workplace safety measures, behavioral threat management and emergency operations planning, incivility, and bullying.

“It is critical,” said Blouin, “that we share key resources with those in the healthcare community to help them prepare for and address, as well as hopefully prevent, this type of unfortunate situation from taking place.”

In a resource center blog post, Paul M. Schyve, MD, also a senior advisor to the Joint Commission, links preserving the safety of patients and other healthcare workers to the Hippocratic oath: “Consequently, we realize that to ‘do no harm’ requires us to contribute to improving the culture, systems, and processes within which all of our patients—both our own and our colleagues—receive care. To make our own patients safe, we must contribute to making all patients safe.”

Have you experienced a workplace violence event or bullying in your practice? We’d love to hear from you—start or join the discussion here.

References

  • Wyatt R. Anderson-Drevs K, Van Male, LM. Workplace violence in healthcare: a critical issue with a promising solution. JAMA. 2016;316(10):1037-1038
  • Wyatt R. Workplace Violence Update. Presented at: 23rd State Hospital Association Forum; Chicago, Illinois. May 13, 2016.