Violence in Healthcare

violence in healthcare is on the rise

It’s a sad fact but violence in healthcare is growing.

Health.USNews.com tells the story of Cynthia Palomata. She was a nurse at a county detention facility in California. In 2010, an inmate faked a seizure and was moved to the nursing station. Once there, he killed Palomata by striking her in the head with a lamp.

Workplace Violence in Healthcare

This tragic event might be an extreme example, but it illustrates the danger that healthcare workers are in when they go to work everyday. In January 2017, healthcare workers attended a meeting at the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Capitol Hill. They described experiencing incidents of verbal abuse, and injuries from physical assaults such as scratching, biting and pushing. Most of these assaults come from the very people they are trying to help, their patients.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that there were nearly 17,000 incidents reported in 2014. There were 154 injuries for every 10,000 workers in public hospitals. Workers in nursing home experienced a higher rate: 228 per 10,000 workers.

According to OSHA.gov, “From 2002 to 2013, the rate of serious workplace violence incidents (those requiring days off for an injured worker to recuperate) was more than four times greater in healthcare than in private industry on average.  In fact, healthcare accounts for nearly as many serious violent injuries as all other industries combined.”

The Causes

Of course, a natural reaction to violence in healthcare is to ask why this is happening? Why are good people who have dedicated their lives to helping others being mistreated? Some believe it might be cultural. What’s happening in healthcare, for instance, is just a microcosm of what’s happening in our larger society.

Healthcare workers are seeing patients when they are not at their best. When they are stressed and their tempers may be short. Thus, if it is an angry world outside, that anger will be carried into the healthcare facility and be amplified by the stresses presented inside.

Healthcare workers also work daily with patients whose minds could be clouded by drugs or dementia. These people don’t intend to harm anyone, but are acting out to inaccurately perceived dangers.

The Bottom Line

The world seems to be evolving into a more dangerous place everyday. With that realization must come the idea that no place is safe and that includes our healthcare facilities. Steps should be taken by the proper professionals to resolve security lapses and to create protocols in advance of incidents. Only then will we be able to reduce the present level of violence in healthcare.

If you want to learn more about how to secure your facility and protect your employees, call American Security Force today at 855-722-8585.

Healthcare Security: Partnering on Compliance

ASF-Healthcare-Security-9-16-15Healthcare facilities experience a steady stream of people and patients entering and leaving their buildings. Whether it is a doctor’s office, a building with multiple offices or a hospital, the number of people that pass through each day can be staggering, especially in a large city such as Los Angeles. That amount of people can present multiple types of security risks to doctors, staff, patients and visitors.

With the large amount of people coming and going, the most recognized task that security officers have is access management. Your security team needs to make sure that only visitors with legitimate business at the facility are granted access and that they travel to their destination without straying into secure areas.

Another area of concern is the emotional state of mind of visitors. Because of the nature of a healthcare facility, caring for the sick and dying, many people are already emotionally charged when they arrive. In that state, some allow their emotions to take control and make poor decisions. Experienced security officers need to recognize this potential and understand when it is appropriate to step into a situation.

When you have a population density like that of Southern California, it breeds tension and violence between individuals and groups. Occasionally that can spill over to the medical facility. A trained security team can prevent or minimize that activity and secure the facility until law enforcement arrives.

These are some of the more simple, straight-forward ways experienced security officers service a hospital or medical practice.  Security for healthcare, though, is much more than just managing the access to the facility or reacting to bad behavior. Supplying security services is also about being an active partner with that healthcare provider. Healthcare systems must continually work to meet regulatory compliance. A security partner needs to understand those demands and take an active role in making sure they are met.

For example, experienced security officers need be familiar with HIPPA and the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act. That familiarity can prepare them to be on the lookout for HIPPA violations concerning the protected health information of patients. This might be as simple as making sure patient information is not seen on an unattended computer screen, or that an old box of patient records is not left out near an incinerator or dumpster. Reporting these types of violations is important so that they can be avoided in the future.

Make sure your facility hires the best possible security team available by considering the following:

  • Make sure your security company has experience working with healthcare providers.
  • Ask if they understand the regulations with which healthcare must comply.
  • Be sure your security provider is able to partner with you and identify areas of compliance risk.
  • Once you have selected your security team, include them in all regulatory planning and training.

American Security Force is an experienced provider of security for healthcare facilities. We understand the demands of partnering with these health systems, and welcome the opportunity to be a trusted partner. Through our experience, we have established an effective template from which we can draw the beginnings of an individualized plan. We can create and scale a security team to meet the needs of your facility.

We can also supply Spanish-speaking officers, as well, which has proven to be very helpful in Southern California.

For more information about we can partner with your healthcare system, call American Security Force today at 877-722-8585.