Publish Date: February 9, 2022
Workplace violence among healthcare colleagues has reached what many consider a fevered pitch. Incident data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018) show that 73% of all nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in healthcare are the result of workplace violence and these numbers are likely far less than what is happening, but not being reported, according to Lisa DiBlasi Moorehead, EdD, MSN, RN, CENP, associate nurse executive of Accreditation and Certification Operations for The Joint Commission.
There have also been anecdotal reports from healthcare leaders across the country about increased workplace violence amid stress through the Covid pandemic, and this is amplifying concerns about the dangers of workplace violence in healthcare.
That’s why The Joint Commission has created a new set of standards specific to workplace violence prevention, which took effect Jan. 1, 2022.
Taking a Stand Against Violence in Healthcare
“Although workplace violence is addressed in other safety standards, we felt this safety issue has reached a danger level that requires separate standards with a framework to help organizations develop an effective workplace violence prevention system,” DiBlasi Moorehead explains.
Here are five actions The Joint Commission says every healthcare professional can take to comply with the new workplace violence prevention standards and create a safer work environment:
- Define workplace violence as an organization.
Before a health care organization can take actions as a multidisciplinary team to prevent workplace violence, leadership and every person in the organization must agree on what constitutes workplace violence, DiBlasi Moorehead stresses. “This will give staff a clear idea of what acts of workplace violence to report.”
- Leverage actionable data from an easy-to-access incident reporting system.
A workplace violence incident reporting system must be easy to access and file a report that takes no more than 5-10 minutes total. The reporting process must also exist within a broader reporting culture where there is no fear of retribution and where reporting data are shared and used to implement changes, DiBlasi Moorehead adds. “Leaders should also provide a way for staff to report near misses, possibly through surveying staff outside of the formal incident reporting system.”
- Shape a multidisciplinary team to create policies and procedures for preventing and responding to workplace violence.
When considering who should serve on this team, remember that “not one person or one discipline has all the answers here,” DiBlasi Moorehead acknowledges.
For example, an OR nurse who spends a full day working in an OR may have a different perspective from a surgeon who may not spend his or her workday in one place or even at one organization. Then think about the much broader view the hospital safety officer may bring to the team. “Some facilities have even brought in outside law enforcement to give a perspective of what is happening in the surrounding community,” she adds.
- Make education widespread and provide tools for de-escalating violence.
“Every staff member needs to play an active role in learning about what workplace violence is, how it should be reported, and how it can be prevented,” DiBlasi Moorehead notes. To support this, the hospital must provide training, education, and resources when a new staff member is hired and on a continued basis according to specific roles and responsibilities.
Violence de-escalation strategies should cover skills and techniques to address physical and non-physical violence.
- Conduct an annual worksite analysis to assess and respond to workplace violence.
This analysis should be broad and include widespread input that is targeted to identify vulnerabilities in the system, including how policies compare to leading practices and conform to applicable laws and regulations, The Joint Commission advises.
Tips for Compliance
The structure of The Joint Commission’s new workplace violence prevention standards is designed to involve every staff member, whether it’s leaders who are accountable for developing the program, staff who are responsible for reporting incidents, or everyone keeping up with education on violence response and prevention.
“The key to success with these standards is to make workplace violence awareness part of everyday conversation,” DiBlasi Moorehead stresses. She suggests incorporating workplace violence into the daily safety huddle with a pointed question, such as: “To your knowledge have there been any incidents of workplace violence we need to be aware of?”
For leaders preparing for an upcoming survey, she suggests asking these questions:
- Are there established policies, procedures, and protocols in place to address workplace violence?
- Has education been clear, widespread, and ongoing to ensure any staff member can speak confidently about workplace violence prevention practices?
- Do staff participate in worksite analysis activities to assess your current state of workplace violence and is there follow-up to address areas for improvement that is shared with staff?
To learn more about the rationale and requirements for the 2022 Workplace Violence Prevention Standards, read The Joint Commission’s R3 Report.
Find literature and other resources to address and prevent violence in your workplace with this Workplace Violence Prevention Compendium of Resources from The Joint Commission.
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