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How Healthcare Facilities Can Prepare for and Respond to Patient Violence

Recently, Security Magazine published an article discussing ways to address patient violence in healthcare facilities and hospitals.

The article draws on sobering statistics that reveal how violence that stems from patients and patient visitors produces both considerable risk and concern in the healthcare industry.

The American College of Physicians notes that healthcare workers are at an increased risk for workplace violence. From 2002 to 2013, workplace violence incidents that required days off for injured workers to recuperate were, on average, four times more common in healthcare than in private industry.

In a 2017 report, the ACP also notes that beyond the human toll, workplace violence in the hospital takes a financial toll. Hospitals spent approximately $1.1 billion in security and training costs to prevent violence within their facilities, plus $429 million in medical care, staffing, indemnity and other costs related to violence against hospital workers.

Communication about how to manage incidents is one of the primary ways in which facilities can respond to violence. The article notes three vital communication tactics:

1.  Build a Crisis Management Team
In an emergency, hospital patients continue to need care and staff members need to continue to be able to provide it. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities should create a crisis management team to help navigate incidents. The team should include key administrators from all divisions of the facility with specific designated roles and a clear chain of command.

2.  Establish a Communication Platform
When an emergency happens, the need for clear communication is immediate. Healthcare facilities must be able to communicate with stakeholders that may include employees, patients, family members, media and law enforcement. The most effective way to communicate with stakeholder groups simultaneously is to use a mass notification system. With such a system, you can notify multiple groups at the same time, using email, automated phone messages or texts. Your communication will be clear, timely and efficient, and you can easily issue updates.

Along with a mass notification system, you need a formal emergency plan. It should include pre-written templates that can then be issued as mass notifications. Such an approach can support your emergency communication as follows:

  • Crisis coordination – You can coordinate the efforts of all teams responding to the crisis, including directing responders and routing supplies.
  • Security broadcasts – You can alert all personnel that an intruder is in the facility and to be alert to suspicious behavior.
  • Emergency requests for additional staff – You can bolster your staff if there is a mass incident.

3.  Train Your Team
Your emergency communications response plan will be infinitely more effective if you conduct mock violence drills. Send test notifications so that your staff knows how to respond if a real emergency occurs. If they’re familiar with the technology you use, they’ll be more able to respond to the event with confidence.

The more thoroughly you map out and test your plan, the more prepared you and your facility will be if a violent incident does occur. Our free eBook, “Critical Emergency Alerting Service – For Today’s Leading Healthcare Providers” includes insights into how crisis communications is part of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare’s Conditions of Participation for Emergency Planning. It also details communications challenges and provides solutions that you can use routinely or during an emergency.

Critical Emergency Alerting Service for Today’s Leading Healthcare Providers

Critical Emergency Alerting Service for Today’s Leading Healthcare Providers

Wondering how to ensure your facility is compliant when the new CMS Emergency Communication guidelines go into effect in November? Download our FREE eBook: Critical Emergency Alerting Service for Today’s Leading Healthcare Providers.

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