Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals have a tough job. Their efforts can mean life or death for their patients. That alone can be stress-inducing, along with demanding work schedules and, in some locations, limited resources.
There is another problem that plagues this industry that isn’t discussed as much as it should be: workplace violence. Every day, healthcare workers face verbal abuse and physical assaults. It is an issue that appears more often in the medical field than in most other professions.
According to data collected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) between 2002 and 2013, incidents of serious workplace violence occurred four times more often compared to private industries. That amounts to approximately 7.8 cases per 10,000 full-time healthcare employees. For other large sectors like manufacturing, retail, and construction, that number was less than two per 10,000.
CEO of Cleveland Clinic Dr. Tom Mihaljevic explained that “There is a very fundamental problem in U.S. healthcare that very few people speak about, and that’s the violence against healthcare workers.”
“Daily, literally daily, we’re exposed to violent outbursts, in particular in our emergency rooms.” Dr. Mihaljevic went on to call the issue a “national epidemic” that
“strains those who are trying to help others.”
Safety Measures for Healthcare Workers
Most facilities have implemented safety measures to protect patients and healthcare workers. While these don’t provide a complete solution, they help manage risk. These measures include panic buttons, limited visitor hours, police presence, metal detectors, emergency preparedness procedures, and limited access to certain areas. De-escalation training is also provided to give employees the skills needed to calm aggression and prevent injury.
Unfortunately, these situations can be unpredictable. That means healthcare workers must think on their feet, determine which tools will produce the safest results, and then put them into action.
HSS Inc. Takes Training Further with TEAM Essentials
HSS Inc. is a Denver-based security consulting firm whose mission is to use “empathy, intellect, discretion and diplomacy to create safe environments wherever we serve.” They harness the power of technology and information to provide safety solutions for clients.
The launch of their newest training product, TEAM Essentials, was announced on July 23rd, 2019. The name stands for Techniques for Effective Aggression Management. The program provides immersive training that helps healthcare facilities stem the rising tide of workplace violence. TEAM is currently the only product of its kind in the U.S. that is tailored to the healthcare industry.
Its arrival couldn’t be timelier. States across the country are evaluating and implementing regulations related to healthcare workplace violence. California implemented SB 1299, which outlines plans to help protect medical professionals. The bill expanded the scope of a crime and lists requirements that apply to employers and employees that are intended to reduce the risk of injury.
TEAM furthers the efforts of lawmakers by providing an on-site training solution that addresses the issue directly. The program uses eLearning methods to reduce the amount of classroom time by half compared to other training solutions.
Employees can work through simulations, training videos, and healthcare case studies. The focus is on showing staff how to create a safe space around themselves by being proactive. The techniques taught also reduce the need for patient restraints.
The HSS Inc. website states that TEAM training increases Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores. HCAHPS is a patient satisfaction survey required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.
TEAM, along with the Emergency Department Safety (ED-Safe) course, gives hospital staff a comprehensive aggression management training program that prepares them to protect themselves and the patients and visitors they see daily. The key topics covered include:
- Understanding violence risk factors
- Verbal de-escalation techniques
- Policies and Staff training
- Environmental controls
- Staff response options
HSS Inc. currently offers TEAM three ways. Hospitals can receive training by a certified instructor or online. There is also a Train the Trainer options available for ongoing in-house education.
Moving Healthcare Workers in a Safer Direction
We need our medical professionals. They are essential to our everyday lives. And their safety is extremely important. Patients pose the highest risk, making up about 80% of the cause of healthcare worker injuries that resulted in days away from work.
Occurrences of violence and abuse are underreported. According to OSHA, their data only includes incidents that caused the worker to have to take time off. It doesn’t account for incidents that did not end with the worker spending days away to recover.
A survey asked 4,738 nurses in Minnesota how many incidents they dealt with that that went unreported. Only about 69% of physical and 71% of non-physical assaults were recorded.
This is an ongoing issue throughout the medical industry. While nurses and doctors must deal with potentially harmful interactions, others are searching for ways to make their jobs safer. eLearning solutions like HSS Inc.’s TEAM training program give healthcare workers the skills and knowledge needed to increase workplace safety. Training cannot prevent all violence, but it can help lower the number of incidents that healthcare workers endure each year.