An epidemic of Workplace violence in healthcare-Part 2

by todaystrainingblog

Security issues, including workplace violence (WPV), have, literally, invaded our health care institutions including hospitals. For security professionals it is time that, along with every other institution, that we do what we can to stop it or at the very least reduce the risk. If it makes people mad, upset, or whatever…But with good security and preventive measures they will always be someone who is upset, or offended, by what you’re doing.

Health care institutions are by their very nature supposed to be places that are open, friendly, inviting to visitors, & places of compassion and comfort. Unfortunately far too many take this much further than is intended by committing a crime and violence while on the grounds.

And even more unfortunate is that the medical staff account for more than 85% of the ones assaulted. While overall less than 2% of all reported incidents, they result in more than 20% of injuries and lost time incidents. And this in and of itself pushes up the cost of the healthcare facility and their associated costs.

These costs must be absorbed by the organizations. These cuts involve everything including but not limited to; cuts to staff and small perks to them, as well as the cost to us of course, & we won’t mention the liability & workers comp. Add these up along with the lost time, health care (for the injured employee), and possibly lawsuits and you can see how easily the financial costs rise quickly. And these costs are totally outside the Return on Investment for any other project yet…

At one hospital just last year, a nurse overheard a conversation between a nurse and police officer guarding a violent prisoner. This exchange has been paraphrased for brevity; the nurse began discussing the incident with the police officer, and she was informed “It’s all in the line of work you do. It’s not a real assault, you expect that sort of thing. So, we don’t necessarily do anything about that.”

The nurse then quietly responded “So when a police officer gets shot and wounded or killed, it’s no big deal. It’s the same thing, you expect it to happen. Therefore we shouldn’t really take it that seriously, right?” She got a shocked look.  Eventually the officer started to look at the facts a bit differently.

One of the biggest issues with WPV in healthcare is the overall lack of security. Hospitals, and other healthcare facilities, are for-profit institutions, even the ones that are called non-profit. And because they are for-profit, they don’t want to spend money on a cost center as they believe security is. And they don’t listen to the logical stats & arguments that say that it can actually increase profits and not drain them.

And because of this, most security departments are not as well funded or staffed as they should be. Good security can be expensive and time consuming to administration and supporting staff. To them it’s a necessary evil and a hindrance & doesn’t add to the bottom line, which of course it does in numerous uncounted ways.

Healthcare facilities want their facilities to be warm, compassionate, &inviting, which is as it should be. However, there has to be a balance of security with the idea of not turning it into a gulag. That balance is determined by the location of the facility, including affiliated sites.

Healthcare institutions are also one of the last places you would expect to see or hear about the bullying, harassment, or threats by supervisors/managers against employees much less the disinterest by those even higher up in the echelon of command. But it occurs to more than 95% of all employees.  And because it doesn’t occur here (It Can’t Happen Here), nothing is done to either stop or curb it.

As the professionals tasked with ensuring the safety & security we must do what we can for the protection of the hospital, its employees, vendors, & patients. Even if we have to play politics to do it. And no one likes to do that, I hope anyway. Over and above that, we need to ensure that every single request for additional financial resources is accompanied by a substantial return on investment (ROI) strategy as well, as with every other business, before submitting a proposal to the c-suite.


Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

       I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear