Protecting Nurses and Doctors: Healthcare Workplace Violence Prevention

Medical nurse is sitting down a the hospital corridor

The problem of violence against doctors and nurses affects public health worldwide. Working in high-stress areas like waiting rooms, ERs, behavioral health units, etc. may be a regular occurrence for healthcare professionals. Even though hospitals and other medical facilities are vitally important medical care sites, they are also frequently the scene of verbal abuse and crisis situations. 

What is workplace violence?
The majority of individuals associate violence with a physical attack. However, there is a much larger issue with violence and harassment in the workplace. It refers to any incident in which an individual is mistreated, threatened, intimidated, or assaulted while working.

Workplace violence can take many different forms, including rumors, swearing, verbal abuse, harassment, pranks, disagreements, property damage, vandalism, sabotage, shoving, theft, physical attacks, psychological trauma, anger-related incidents, rape, arson, and murder.

How to safeguard medical professionals from assault

Here are four steps your facility can take to prepare for violence against medical personnel or the possibility of violence:

Identify the early warning signs of violence
Discuss the root causes of workplace violence with your staff, and let them know what resources are available if anything happens. Teaching nurses, doctors, and other healthcare staff about warning signals, what to do, and what policies to follow may help diffuse a potentially violent situation.

Early warning signs of violent behavior to watch out for include social withdrawal, extreme feelings of rejection and isolation, having experienced violence, feeling persecuted, uncontrollable anger, impulsive and persistent intimidation patterns, a history of aggressive behavior and discipline issues, and intolerance for differences.

Establish a successful channel of communication.
The prevention of workplace violence relies heavily on effective communication. In contrast to passively brushing them under the rug in favor of returning to work, if your employees have access to a workplace communication network, it can help them comprehend, detect, and report the early indicators of potential violence. They feel more accountable for communicating when you provide them access to options for resolving disputes. Additionally, establishing an open line of communication with management, HR, and other important stakeholders in your business will help foster an atmosphere where healthcare workers may feel confident that they are taken care of.

Security Evaluation
The identification of potentially dangerous sites is one of the first steps in developing a program to reduce workplace violence. Managers that are devoted to a safety program should analyze the security of both public and work spaces. Review the security procedures for entering the building and specific work zones. Determine which locations are at risk from inadequate lighting, dangerous substances or equipment that could be used to commit an act of violence, or the storage or use of such materials.

Training and Workshops
Hold roundtable talks and training workshops on the topic of workplace violence. Introduce the company's initiatives to avoid workplace violence to every employee. Employees should practice safety plans and procedures so that everyone is aware of how to respond to an emergency. Review methods for calling emergency personnel and for fleeing the location. Find the approved safe areas.

Violence toward healthcare professionals is a problem with deep roots that only continues spreading. Almost every seasoned nurse can recall a situation in which a patient or someone associated with a patient made violent or inappropriate physical contact with them. Violence at work causes mild to serious injuries to healthcare professionals far too frequently. The tips provided can substantially aid in preventing workplace violence to the greatest extent possible.

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