Violence against health workers is a global issue, with up to 38% of health workers suffering physical violence at some point in their careers. Many more are threatened or exposed to verbal aggression from patients and visitors.
Different countries have developed varying responses to the concerning trend. The interventions below, which aim to prevent violence against health workers, focus on strategies to better manage and deter the risk of offence.
France – Environmental strategies
In a French ophthalmic emergency department, a program was designed to address long waiting times and lack of information available to patients. The initiative combined a computerised triage algorithm linked to a waiting room patient call system, signage to assist patients to navigate the facility, educational messages broadcast in the waiting room, presence of a mediator and video surveillance.
The processes saw an immediate 53% decrease in the rate of violence in the first month of implementation. The report concluded a comprehensive prevention program targeting patients and environment can reduce self-reported incivility and verbal violence against healthcare workers.
USA – A violence reduction taskforce
St Barnabas Hospital, located in the US, assembled a violence reduction task force to address rising levels of violence which culminated in a shooting at another local hospital. The taskforce developed three solutions:
Triage relocation – physically and functionally redesigning the emergency department’s triage area to ensure greater control over access to the care environment and improve triage efficiency
- Cohorting of intoxicated, behavioural and/or homeless patients – this also involves standardising the assessment of these high risk patients
- Program management – training and educating hospital employees in the use of verbal de-escalation techniques and the SBAR (situation, background, assessment, recommendation) communication tool. New policies and procedures were introduced to enhance workflow efficiencies and using quality metrics.
While these initiatives are still being implemented, proposed outcomes include a safer work environment, reduced verbal and physical threats, violence acts, and staff injuries, as well as improved quality metrics.
Israel – Community Policing Centres
Community Policing Centres were established to provide a quick response to violence incidents and other crimes. The centres are accessible to patients, family and medical staff. The security staff in these centres is reinforced and receive additional violence-specific training.
Other elements of the project included:
- Providing more information about treatments via medical representatives, pamphlets and technological devices
- Incorporating technology such as surveillance cameras, distress buttons and automatic locking doors
- Training medical staff in violence-prevention techniques
One year after the program’s implementation, there were fewer incidents of violence in participating hospitals. Medical staff felt an increased sense of security (73% felt secure to a great extent or a very great extent compared to 70% in 2015). The number of medical staff who felt concerned that they would be hurt by violence in the hospital dropped from 22% in 2015 to 15% in 2016.
Are you seeking strategies to protect yourself, your staff and your hospital from patient violence and aggression?
The 6th Improving Safety & Security in Healthcare conference, being held in Melbourne from 21 – 22 April, will present proven solutions to address the issue of patient violence against healthcare staff. The conference will focus on OVA and behaviours of concern in aged care, disability services and hospitals. You’ll learn about successful models that have achieved a reduction in OVA or improved outcomes.