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Violence in the health care industry: A troubling matter

There is no question that working in health care can lead to some emotionally charged situations. On top of that, there are people who may come into the emergency room or a doctor's office on drugs or intoxicated. Even those who are normally kind patients might be sick or injured and lash out at health care workers.

Health care workers deal with both verbal and physical abuse in the workplace. This threatens their safety and their ability to care for their patients. Between 2002 and 2013, incidents of workplace violence were around four times more common in health care than in other private industries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration only counts serious workplace violence when it requires someone to take days off from work.

Hospitals have to walk a fine line between security and providing care

The truth is that hospitals have to walk a fine line between providing patients with care when they're ill and having security step in when patients or their families become dangerous. Violent outbursts can happen at any time, and the hospital staff deserves protection. However, sometimes that violence is a result of illness or intoxication, and those patients need assistance.

How are hospitals and health care facilities addressing the need for security for their employees?

Many facilities now use items like panic buttons and metal detectors to reduce the risk of injury to employees. Other implementations include having a police presence, being trained in emergency preparedness, going through de-escalation training and limiting guest hours. Security cameras are often required, and security badge access may be needed to access the most vulnerable areas of the hospital or facility.

Every organization has to come up with a process that works for it specifically. Not all the implementations work best in every situation. Violence ranges from being spit on or hit to being called names or being screamed at. Health care workers put up with a lot because their patients and families are going through difficulties and are emotionally vulnerable, but they still have to be cautious.

Did you know that a Northeast Ohio clinic admitted to confiscating over 30,000 weapons in 2018 from both patients and visitors? The reality that weapons could be taken into a hospital has led to many implementing metal detectors.

Every clinic needs a first and second line of defense, and security is vital for workers. Failing to have good security could lead to injured employees.

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