VHHA offers Workplace Violence Prevention Toolkit

Virginia Hospital and Health Care AssociationThe Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association is sharing new resources to support hospitals, healthcare providers and their staff while improving public understanding of workplace violence and its disproportionate impact on healthcare professionals.

VHHA has developed a comprehensive workplace violence prevention toolkit containing information on applicable national laws, general information on the subject, and step-by-step guidelines to help organizations develop, implement, assess, and maintain workplace violence prevention programs.

To complement the toolkit, signage has also been developed for healthcare providers to display in their facilities that encourages patients and visitors to treat healthcare professionals with respect while reminding people that the threat of violence against a healthcare worker is a crime in Virginia.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals were at high risk of injury from episodes of workplace violence. This risk has increased over the years and continues to be a real safety concern for doctors, nurses and other caregivers,” said VHHA President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton. “While it is understandable that hospital patients and their families may feel particularly vulnerable when they or a loved one are receiving medical care, it is never appropriate to verbally or physically lash out at hospital staff and to health professionals.

“Such behavior has no place in health care settings,” Connaughton said. “It’s hurtful to the caregiver it’s directed at, it’s against the law and, most importantly, it’s counterproductive to patient care. For all of these reasons, we are working with hospital members and other partners to draw attention to violence against healthcare workers and to develop tools that offer strategic approaches that organizations can take to address these challenges. .

Janet Wall, CEO of the Virginia Nurses Association, added, “The well-being of Virginia’s healthcare workers is a top priority. Unfortunately, healthcare professionals experience workplace violence in many forms, including intimidation, threats, physical and verbal abuse, and disruptive behavior. Such acts of violence, whether intentional or unintentional, can cause lasting psychological, emotional or physical harm to affected staff members. The Workplace Violence Prevention Toolkit is a comprehensive document that provides employers with a strategic plan to increase workplace safety, minimize workplace violence occurrences, and respond appropriately in the event of workplace violence. work. The VNA’s Commission for Nursing Practice strongly encourages healthcare organizations to adopt the best practices outlined in the toolkit.

The development and release of the Workplace Violence Prevention Toolkit and related resources is a continuation of VHHA’s efforts to focus on workplace safety and violence prevention for workers in health care facilities who face an increased risk of victimization. Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that of the 20,870 private sector workers who suffered trauma from non-fatal workplace violence resulting in missed work days in 2019, 70% worked in healthcare. health and related fields. BLS data also shows that the incidence rate of violence against healthcare workers increased each year from 2011 to 2018.

Surveys by the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Emergency Nurses Association indicate that nearly half of emergency physicians report being physically assaulted on the job, while about 70% of emergency physician nurses report being hit and kicked on the job. work. Another survey conducted this year by Incredible Health found that 65% of “nurses surveyed said they had been verbally or physically assaulted by a patient or patient’s family member in the past year”.

As troubling as these numbers are, they may underestimate the threat facing healthcare workers. The US Occupational Health and Safety Administration notes that while health care “accounts for nearly as many serious violent injuries as all other industries combined. . . many other attacks or threats go unreported. And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic, which introduced more challenges to healthcare settings, including the potential for increased risk of workplace violence among healthcare workers.

Some initial findings published in the March 2022 edition of the American Journal of Emergency Medicine offer insight into abuse directed at hospital staff during the pandemic. The research, which is based on the experience of staff at a university emergency department in the Midwestern United States, found that instances of verbal abuse toward hospital staff increased with “an increase in violent incidents on the workplace during the pandemic…compared to the three months before…as well as the year before.

To address issues of workplace violence, VHHA and other stakeholders successfully worked with the Virginia General Assembly in 2019 to strengthen protections for healthcare workers in the performance of their work by making it a crime class 1 from threatening to kill or harm them while providing care in a hospital, emergency department or other clinical setting.

In March 2020, the Association launched an Occupational Safety Task Force to determine a statewide employee injury baseline measure, identify and monitor potential opportunities for improvement and establish recommendations for best practices. The working group’s ongoing work includes a sub-group dedicated to workplace violence.

An in-person task force workshop focused on creating safer work environments is planned for summer 2022. Previously, a 2018 issue of VHHA’s REVIEW magazine shed light on the topic of workplace violence and showcased several programs developed in member health systems to address prevention and safety.

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