The Criticality of Security in Florida Hospitals
By Caroline Ramsey-Hamilton
Violence in hospitals and against healthcare staff has been steadily increasing since 2004. A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), cited the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH publication 2002-101, which indicated that healthcare workers face four times the violence potential as other occupations.
Here’s one secret for looking at the statistics, OSHA does not count domestic incidents (like homocides) that take place in hospitals as officially “workplace violence incidents”, instead they are counted in another system.
Anecdotal incidents such as the shooting of a physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland in September, 2010, and employee killed himself in a Florida hospital cafeteria, keep the issue on the front pages, and cause hospital staff to worry about their own personal safety.
Nurses are especially vulnerable because they are mostly women, young and not “situationally aware” in all cases. Nurses are on the front lines, and nursing associations and nursing schools are actively lobbying for safer working conditions for their members.
Psychiatric nurses and individuals who work in the Emergency Departments are more likely to experience violence. Because patients who either walk in, or are brought in may be delusional, combative, or just in pain and disoriented, the ED is an environment more likely to experience an incident.
The Joint Commission issued a Sentinel Event Alert in June 2010, on violence in hospitals and how it can affect both staff and the patients themselves.
In the past, workplace violence issues were traditionally something handled in the Department of Human Resources, but security departments are increasingly involved in violent incidents and are critical to safeguarding hospitals.
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