Duty of Care in the Workplace: Addressing Healthcare Violence

Workplace violence in healthcare continues to be a pressing issue throughout the US. Duty of Care which outlines the responsibility medical facilities have to provide a safe and secure workplace for their staff, should also be of paramount concern. But is it? The growing levels of stress for healthcare professionals and their patients – as well as patient families – seems to be on a never ending path of conflict. But it does not have to be this way. When tensions can run high, understanding and implementing Duty of Care measures is essential to mitigating the risk of violence.

Healthcare professionals work in emotionally charged environments. Patients may be experiencing pain, fear, or frustration, leading to high stress and other spiraling emotions. By having a strong Duty of Care plan, healthcare facilities are able to take reasonable steps that help protect its employees. For in these high stress situations, the patients and families under care, may lash out at any time.

One aspect of duty of care involves the establishment of clear policies and procedures aimed at preventing workplace violence. This includes training staff on recognizing potentially volatile situations. Additionally, having a robust workplace violence prevention plan provides a blueprint to creating a safer workplace but keeps your standards complaint with regulatory and accreditation organizations such as OSHA and The Joint Commission. By fostering a culture of awareness and preparedness, healthcare teams can empower their employees to respond appropriately to challenging scenarios.

In addition to prevention and preparedness measures, healthcare institutions must have robust incident response protocols. In the unfortunate event of violence occurring, having a well-defined plan in place ensures a swift and coordinated response to minimize harm. This involves not only addressing the immediate threat but also providing support for the affected employees in the aftermath. Ongoing, keeping the proper records of the incident and using those to plan for the future is an absolute necessity that too many facilities currently ignore.

Collaboration between healthcare institutions and law enforcement is another important part of Duty of Care. Minimally trained security personal and trendy threat deterrent tools only reduce the occurrences of certain workplace violence factors but fails to fully address the overall problems. Establishing communication channels and sharing relevant information can enhance security measures and improve the overall safety of the workplace. By working together, healthcare and law enforcement professionals can create a more secure environment for both employees and patients.

The duty of care is not a static concept; it requires continuous assessment and adaptation. Periodic reviews of security measures by trained, licensed, 3rd-party experts, quarterly updates to incident response plans, and ongoing employee training ensure that medical teams and support staff stay ahead of potential threats. This commitment to ongoing improvement reflects a genuine dedication to the well-being of everyone within the healthcare workplace.

The importance of Duty of Care in addressing workplace violence in healthcare cannot be overstated. It is a multifaceted approach that involves proactive measures, incident response planning, and collaboration with trained prevention and response. By prioritizing the safety and well-being of its employees, healthcare facilities fulfill their Duty of Care, creating a secure environment where professionals can focus on providing quality care to those in need.

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