Workplace Violence in Healthcare is a Real Threat

New Technologies Increase Security

SPRYTE Communications is an active member of the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey’s Health Issues Committee. At our quarterly meeting on September 10, Symtech Solutions Marketing and Business Development Director Brittany Countis provided an overview of workplace violence towards healthcare providers, a growing concern. Countis shared her presentation with SPRYTE. We are running it as SPRYTE Insights’ guest blog this week.

Managing workplace violence in healthcare is a challenge, but life safety systems such as wearable panic buttons can help speed up response time to an emergency. When implemented in a solid violence prevention program, panic buttons can increase the safety of staff and patients, while mitigating risk for the enterprise.

Panic Buttons Are Vital in Violence Prevention Programs which is why they are being mandated in various cities, states and industries due to increase in violence. In hospitality, the city of Miami Beach and state of NJ have mandated the use of panic buttons in hotels over 100 rooms. In the education sector NJ is requiring panic buttons in schools K-12 and PA has provided state grants towards the purchase of panic buttons. The demand for panic button technology in healthcare is on the rise as violence against healthcare workers is being exposed.

Requiring Panic Buttons in Hospitality and Education

The House Education and Labor Committee recently passed the Workplace Violence and Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1309) which seeks an enforceable federal standard to disrupt the growing level of violence against nurses, physicians, social workers, emergency responders and other caregivers. This bill would offer protections to public-sector workers in the states not under OSHA oversight while calling on employers to identify risks; specify solutions; and require training, reporting and incident investigations. The legislation also would require an interim final OSHA standard one year after enactment and the completion of a final standard within 42 months.

Healthcare professions are at an increased risk for workplace violence. From 2002 to 2013, incidents of serious workplace violence requiring days off from work is four times more common in healthcare than in the private industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, health care and social service workers suffered 69% of all workplace violence injuries and were nearly five times more likely to experience violence on the job than the average US worker.

Healthcare workers are more likely to get injured at work than police officers and prison guards; nurses suffer in particular. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks incidence rates of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work, including “intentional injury by other person.” Of the 18,400 injuries reported in the private industry in 2017, 71% were reported in the healthcare and social assistance sector. And this only includes incidents that involved

Symtech Solutions Wearable Panic Button

A solid prevention program offers an effective approach to reduce or eliminate the risk of violence in the workplace. Emergency Call Systems such as Symtech Solutions’ wearable panic button are a vital tool as they can save time in locating a victim during an emergency or attack which can decrease the amount of damage done. Here is how it works:

  1. When an emergency occurs, every minute counts so it’s important to know the exact location of the victim so security can respond directly to the incident. With Symtech’s wearable panic button, security can identify the victim with 100% location accuracy.
  2. Auto-tracking of Symtech’s panic buttons, after the call for help is initiated. This allows security to track them throughout the facility and even into the parking garages.
  3. With Symtech’s wearable panic button, security will know who placed the call, so there is no need to take a roll call.
  4. Symtech’s wearable panic buttons have two-way feedback which indicates to the victim that the call for help was received and help is on the way.
  5. The use of Symtech’s wearable panic buttons reduces the disruption of patients and visitors in the event of an emergency by isolating the incident and responding to the location directly.
  6. Symtech’s wearable panic buttons are a discrete and silent way to call for help without escalating the situation as they can be worn inside clothing and do not annunciate upon activation.
  7. Having a means to call for help provides piece of mind to caregivers who risk themselves for the safety of others everyday.
  8. Panic buttons can prevent bad PR by minimizing the catastrophic damage of an attack and costly legal disputes.

Workplace Violence Costs Healthcare Providers

Workplace violence is taxing on the worker, but also on the organization. A 2017 report prepared for the American Hospital Association estimated that workplace violence cost U.S. hospital and health systems approximately $2.7 billion in 2016, including $280 million related to preparedness and prevention, $852 million in unreimbursed medical care for victims, $1.1 billion in security and training costs, and an additional $429 million in medical care, staffing, indemnity, and other costs related to violence against hospital employees. Further, health workers who were victims of violence experienced an average of 112.8 hours per year of sick, disability, and leave time (excluding long- and short-term disability), which was 60.4 hours more per year than counterparts who had not experienced workplace violence, therefore mitigating the risk for the enterprise. – Brittany Countis