In a 2014 survey, almost 80 percent of nurses reported being attacked on the job within the past year. Health-care workers experience the most nonfatal workplace violence compared to other professions by a wide margin. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, incidents of patients hitting, kicking, scratching, biting, threatening or harassing staff accounting for almost 70 percent of all nonfatal workplace assaults causing days away from work in the U.S.
I believe that in order to reduce the incidence of patient violence, three things need to happen:
The patient care culture needs to change. Clinical staff are taught to heal patients at all costs, and they do their jobs well. However, what nursing and technical schools don’t teach staff is how to protect themselves while administering care. As a society, we can create any number of laws designed to safeguard patient care staff. But until the patient care culture shifts, there’s very little we can do to reduce patient violence in hospitals. At Securitas, we spend a lot of time training staff on how to look for the warning signs that a patient is about to become violent, and how to prioritize their own safety above providing patient care “at all costs.”
Train support staff on the use of force continuum. While seventy percent or more of the hospital security industry is familiar with the use of force continuum, I would venture to guess that only five to ten percent of patient care staff are familiar with it. Therefore, the majority is prone to respond inappropriately in a given situation, and the line between rendering care and law enforcement actions gets crossed.
I personally wrote Securitas’ force continuum for dealing with violent patients and emphasize the following points when training support staff.
What are your questions or thoughts about training hospital care staff on the use of force continuum? Please share them here.
On April 30th at 2 pm ET, I’ll continue this conversation live as part of an all-star panel of security experts that includes Mass General Hospital’s Bonnie Michelman, Universal Protection Service’ Rick Ward and HSS’ Tony York.
Guardian 8 COO Paul Hughes will moderate the discussion.