WHA Workforce Council Wrestles with Workplace Violence Prevention

Hospitals and health systems learn from each other and experts to protect the health care workforce

November 27, 2019

WHA’s Council on Workforce Development devoted their entire Nov. 22 meeting to an assessment of workplace violence in their settings, and the strategies and resources Wisconsin hospitals and health systems are devoting to violence response and prevention.

Council members invited safety and security experts to attend the meeting, and the group welcomed Mike Cummings, a health care security consultant, to set the stage for their discussion. Cummings discussed the four cornerstones of a violence prevention program: policies, procedures and practices, incident reporting, and communication and training.

Sixteen participants – from large urban hospitals, remote critical access facilities and everything in between – discussed recent trends in violence in their settings, including an increased intensity in physical and verbal violence and other settings, like obstetrics units and ambulatory clinics catching up to emergency rooms and psychiatric settings in the frequency of violence, or of narrrowly averted violence (“near misses”).

The participants identified their biggest barriers to eliminating violence in health care:
  • Complacency must be overcome; a culture shift is needed to acknowledge that physical and verbal violence is not okay, and that prevention can be effective.
  • Training resources are needed; not just dollars, but expertise and methodology, especially for hospitals where employed security personnel are not feasible or recommended.
  • Immediate barriers must be addressed while advocacy occurs to resolve underlying causes such as the opioid epidemic and lack of access to mental health resources.
The WHA Council on Workforce Development’s assessment will be utilized to develop the resources that will be the most useful to WHA members as they continue to work on preventing violence in health care settings. Contact WHA Vice President of Workforce and Clinical Practice Ann Zenk for further information or to provide feedback on the Council’s assessment.

This story originally appeared in the November 27, 2019 edition of WHA Newsletter