Keywords: patient, staff, state hospitals, assault, hospital, healthcare, security, training, violence, de-escalation, workplace

The disturbing video of 68 year old patient, Charles Logan, who unleashed a rampage of attacks on nurses with a bar in St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, Minn in November last year sent an alarming message across America over the gravity of violence occurring in state hospitals. Assaults on hospital employees by patients are a frequent recurrence and poses a serious threat to the functioning of state hospitals in America.

The International Healthcare Security and Safety Foundation reports a disturbing statistic which highlights that the healthcare workplaces account for up to 60% of workplace attacks. Due to these harrowing findings, we at MABPRO recommend employers an overview of our certain steps aimed towards preventing workplace assaults.

1.     Conduct a Workplace Analysis

The first step in preventing workplace assaults is to conduct a workplace analysis in order to identify the current workplace conditions, scenarios, environment that is conducive to workplace violence. The aim is to scrutinize the root causes and trends of violent behavior in relation to previous incidents and map out ways to address it.

A solution to a problem such as this first requires understanding the gravity and depth of the problem. This would consist of the following:
Different levels of assessments should be undertaken using a team of senior management, employee supervisors, and security and operations representatives to learn the impact of the current workplace hazards. This could include the following set of activities:

  • Scan through records of patients’ illnesses and monitor work routines, practices
  • Conduct employee surveys to obtain information on the day to day risks of violence patient behavior
  • Evaluate current work conditions and whether they contribute to workplace assaults

After a thorough analysis and research is conducted and the results evaluated, employers are then required to put into effect certain solutions.

2.     Assault Prevention and Management

The second part of the program should revolve around designing a set of procedures at an administrative and human resource level that will contribute to a safer work place culture.

It would require installing a series of control and security systems that employees can access to signal a potential risk of violent behavior. These could include alarm systems, metal detectors, CCTV camera installations, bullet and shatter proof windows and panic buttons. These control would act as a means to request a security team to intervene and prevent any possibility of an assault and restrict the patient should the need arise.

In addition to security controls, it would also involve implementing a series of training services to help staff understand the best practices for handling patient behavior, the warning signs and de-escalation tactics include self-defense workshops. They could further be instructed when to report a potential incident and how best to do so.

Furthermore, it would also include ensuring that the work conditions are optimal to foster a stress-free environment such as proper lighting, air-conditioning and beds.

This could be summed up as the following:

  • Provide engineering controls that aid in alerting violent incidents
  • Provide effective staff de-escalation and self-defense training
  • Implement best practices related to employee behavior and routines towards patients

Bottom Line

Creating a workplace culture that minimizes the threat of patient assault requires an effective two part program that requires an accurate evaluation of current work place conditions and a thorough set of effective solutions at administrative and staff level.