Violence in Healthcare - American Security Force

Violence in Healthcare

by | Dec 6, 2017 | Security

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

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