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How to decrease workplace violence in healthcare: 10 resources to explore

September 18, 2019

Note: This is the second post in a three-part series on workplace violence in hospitals. Miss the first one? Check out Workplace Violence in Healthcare: What Does the Data Say? Didn’t miss the first one? Great! Let’s dive in.

Workplace violence in healthcare is becoming more than a silent, undiscussed issue—it’s an epidemic requiring intervention and change.

But this dangerous issue is not an easy challenge to address. For years, violence against health care workers has often been considered part of the job. That probably is most due to our understanding that many violent outbursts stem from patients struggling with symptoms of their illness or the medications they are taking to treat their condition. Further, limited standards of reporting across healthcare organizations mean it can be very difficult for healthcare staff to know when and how they should report incidents of violence.

The good news? From hospitals to labor unions to nurses themselves, concerned groups are forming and growing, working to raise awareness of the need to help protect healthcare workers and to decrease the stigma frequently attached to reporting violent incidents. It’s time to help change the belief that being silent is the only option.

To start making positive changes in your organization, check out these resources that can help you develop programs or support legislation needed to help efforts to decrease healthcare workplace violence.

Workplace violence in healthcare social media groups

One of the best ways to connect to real-life stories of violence directed at healthcare workers is to follow social media groups that have been developed to create awareness of workplace violence or provide support to those dealing with it.

These social media groups provide a “boots on the ground” perspective of the issues and can show unfiltered perspectives on what can be a very emotional and traumatic reality for healthcare professionals.

  1. Silent No More Foundation

Angela Simpson, RN, founded the not-for-profit Silent No More Foundation to bring attention to the violence healthcare workers face and to provide support to workers who have experienced an assault in the workplace. At over 12,000 members (with more than 1,000 new members joining every month), the Silent No More Facebook group is one of the largest social media efforts focused on protecting healthcare workers from violence. Anyone interested can join.

  1. #HAVhope: Day of Awareness

The American Hospital Association (AHA) established June 7 as a national day of awareness as part of their Hospitals Against Violence (HAV) initiative to combat workplace violence in healthcare. A #HAVhope search on Twitter shows hundreds of pictures of healthcare professionals standing together in support to end violence. Mark June 7 on your calendar as a reminder to participate.

Workplace violence in healthcare prevention program support

These examples of programs and practices include strategies like de-escalation training, preparedness drills, risk and threat assessments, and other programs developed by healthcare organizations in response to the increased risk of violence in healthcare.

  1. Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA) Guide

This guide is the result of MHA’s Workplace Safety and Violence Prevention Workgroup. The workgroup developed this framework to help create an effective healthcare violence prevention program. At 22 full pages of rich content, this guide provides an excellent framework to follow to build your own program. From creating a risk and threat assessment, to training and education, to implementing security alerts within your EHR, this guide is worth the read.

  1. Grady Memorial Hospital “Caring for the Caregiver”

In 2015, Grady Health System (one of the largest urban providers in the U.S.) created an “aggressive” strategy to assess and minimize violence against healthcare professionals and improve workplace safety. In this document, read about their priorities and the operational initiatives they used to meet their goals. Perhaps most interesting is a section on how they met their staff safety goals by “caring for the caregiver.”

  1. American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) Toolkit

As the voice of nursing leadership in healthcare, AONL’s resources and tools for workplace violence prevention are valuable resources. AONL provides a unique perspective on how workplace violence impacts nurse burnout and the nursing shortage.

Workplace violence in healthcare research and data

Sometimes the best place to start to when you’re building a plan to make change is by working to understand the problem as completely as possible. These resources offer comprehensive overviews of violence in healthcare.

  1. ECRI Institute Violence in Healthcare Facilities Guidance

Not only does this guide on violence in healthcare include helpful background information including incidence rates, risk factors, and types of workplace violence, it also gives digestible information on related laws and regulations. Throughout the guide you’ll also find practical resources to help develop your own workplace violence prevention program.

  1. OSHA’s Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers

Though this guide may not be regarded for its readability or ease of understanding, it was published by OSHA—the authority on occupational safety, so it’s worth the effort to browse through. Pay particular attention to the workplace violence program checklists for a helpful template to use to evaluate your own organization.

  1. The Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert on Physical and Verbal Violence Against Health Care Workers

This issue of the Sentinel Event Alert, published by The Joint Commission, gives an excellent overview of workplace violence in healthcare, and includes preventive actions suggested by The Joint Commission. It might be helpful to use these suggestions as a checklist to help guide your process and monitor your progress.

Workplace violence in healthcare tools and technology

  1. Spok and Spectralink Partnership

We have a partnership with Spectralink that combines Spok clinical alerting and Spectralink SAFE so healthcare workers can quickly alert nearby staff members and/or the security team of safety events with the press of a button on their Spectralink device.

  1. Using database reports to reduce workplace violence

Health systems have reported success in using quick reporting technology to increase the ease of reporting workplace violence incidents. Much more academic in nature, this research is a little hard to get through, but it does present meaningful information on the preferred content and format of incident reports.

Making a positive impact on workplace violence in healthcare

This list of resources to help decrease workplace violence in healthcare includes some hefty reading material. There’s no way to consume all this information quickly or effortlessly, and there’s no one clear path to lessen violence in healthcare.

But, by continuing to learn how to contribute or support efforts to decrease violence against healthcare workers, it’s possible to make a difference. We’ll continue to our research and add more favorite resources to this list. If we’re missing your favorite, please email us.

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Provider Experience

By Katie Cornwell, MSN, NNP-BC, CNS
Katie Cornwell is the director of clinical marketing at Spok. She has over 20 years of experience in the clinical, medical device, and healthcare IT fields. Katie has worked at the bedside as a neonatal and pediatric critical care nurse, nurse practitioner, and clinical nurse specialist. Prior to joining Spok, Katie also held roles in medical device product management and in healthcare IT product management and marketing. She earned her BSN from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and Masters NNP and CNS degrees from Duke University. Connect with Katie on LinkedIn.