To combat workplace violence, step up reporting systems

Emergency room doctor physician stethoscope scrubs Getty/gordonsaunders
Providers are urging staff to report workplace violence more frequently. Getty/gordonsaunders

Workplace violence in healthcare setting is on the rise, and providers are encouraging staff to be more proactive about reporting incidents.

Aurora Health Care, for instance, established a systemwide steering committee that created a pilot call center and urged staff to report all incidents, according to an article from Hospitals & Health Networks. The system later eliminated the call center, but it now has a more robust collection of data on violence to build from.

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In the pilot’s first three weeks, the Milwaukee-based, 15-hospital system saw more workplace violence reports than in all of 2015. Mary Beth Kingston, R.N., executive vice president and chief nursing officer at Aurora, told H&HN that's progress.

“We really do need to ... change the mindset and say, ‘Yes, we’re caring for people at a very vulnerable time, but no, we want to put systems in place so that we all can see that this really isn’t part of our job,’” Kingston said.

RELATED: Workplace violenceencourage healthcare staff to report assaults

Workplace violence in healthcare is an underreported but widespread problem. Between 2011 and 2013, 75% of workplace assaults occurred in healthcare settings, FierceHealthcare has reported. Eighty percent of emergency medical workers will experience physical violence at some point in their careers, but less than half report these incidents to the police.

Healthcare leaders must encourage reporting and support staff members when they are assaulted. This is especially true for nurses, who are likely to bear the brunt of physical and verbal abuse.

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North Carolina-based Mission Health has embraced a data-driven approach, according to H&HN. It formed a multidisciplinary team focused on assault reduction, which reviews data on violence on a monthly basis. 

But don’t get too bogged down in the figures, the system’s Chief Quality Officer Chris DeRienzo, M.D., told the publication. Try one strategy and evolve as necessary.