Corporate Security

Detecting and Preventing Workplace Violence in Healthcare

Posted November 11, 2022 by Resolver

Code White is the hospital call signal for aggressive behavior or a violent person on the premises. Workplace violence can strike in any occupational field, but those working in healthcare find themselves especially at risk, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made the situation worse. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that healthcare and social assistance workers experience workplace violence five times more than the national average. Meanwhile, a recent survey by Perceptyx found that 92% of healthcare workers witnessed or were themselves a victim of workplace violence in April 2022.  

While the high-stress and difficult nature of the job healthcare workers perform means some risk will always be present at the workplace, there are ways to minimize risk and create a safer work culture. Companies must understand and routinely assess the causes of workplace violence in healthcare to create a healthy and efficient environment for their employees and the patients they care for. A comprehensive threat protection plan is essential to proactively keep healthcare workers safe from the threats of workplace violence. 

What is workplace violence?  

Workplace violence includes any threat or action that occurs on the job, detrimental to the health of one or several people present. Perpetrators may target employees, customers, or other visitors in the vicinity for a variety of reasons, ranging from professional to personal. 

The use of the word “violence” often leads people to assume that physical injury or even death must occur for an incident to fit the description of the term. This simply isn’t the case as the umbrella of workplace violence also covers the psychological harm — like verbal harassment — caused on the job. 

Some examples of workplace violence threats include: 

  • Harassment 
  • Intimidation 
  • Bullying 
  • Assault and battery 
  • Threats of violence 
  • Vandalism and property damage 
  • Rape 
  • Homicide 

These different types of events are grouped together, but each occurs at its own frequency. According to the U.S. National Safety Council’s (NSC) Injury Facts, 20,050 non-fatal workplace assaults were reported in 2020, compared to 304 lives lost to shootings in the same year. Meanwhile, a Monster.com poll found that 90% of respondents had experienced bullying in the workplace. 

Why is workplace violence in healthcare so prevalent? 

An estimated 2 million people in the U.S. experience workplace violence every year, and many of those incidents stem from the healthcare industry. Healthcare workers experience a higher incidence rate of workplace violence than those in other industries for a number of reasons:  

  1. Healthcare workers often work long hours under high stress. 
  2. The healthcare field involves many unique power dynamics, such as doctor-to-patient, nurse-to-patient, and doctor-to-nurse. 
  3. Healthcare workers must often give bad news to patients and their families. 
  4. The population of hospital patients reflects the full spectrum of citizens of a community, some of whom may have mental health or addiction issues that can sometimes lead to extreme rage, tendencies of violence, and general mistrust of authority. 
  5. Workers in geriatric care facilities, psychiatric hospitals, and the like care for patients who may be a risk to themselves and others. 

Other external or temporary factors also influence incident rates in the healthcare industry. Workers have more recently fallen victim to violence from patients and families unhappy with COVID-related mandates and protocols. Sixty-eight percent of nurses acknowledged being verbally assaulted by patients during the COVID pandemic, with 44% reportedly experiencing physical violence during the same span. 

How a threat protection solution can help to detect and prevent workplace violence 

Even the best threat assessments and precautions can’t prevent workplace violence from occurring entirely. That’s why many companies turn to Resolver’s threat protection application to identify threats before they turn into costly incidents. Whether your leading indicator comes from an employee hotline, a suspicious log via an access reporting system, the dark web, or social media, Resolver burns the haystack so you can find the needle.  

Once a potential threat is identified, Resolver’s market-leading case and investigation management software and built-in assessment methodologies, like WAVR-21, ensure your team can effectively qualify or discredit the threat. Once the threat is qualified, our platform provides the workflow management tools to ensure a timely and accurate response. And our built-in data analytics platform ensures you can report on the impact of the threat program and the value of security investments. 

Your workplace and everyone in it deserves the best protection technology can offer. Sign up for a guided product demo and discover for yourself how Resolver can elevate your commercial security situation to new heights. 

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