The True Value of the Hospital Security Program

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.

If you add in the many domestic violence cases that play out in our hospitals, you can double or triple that figure. For reporting purposes, OSHA does not count domestic incidents (like murders) that take place in hospitals as officially “workplace violence incidents”.
Anecdotal incidents such as the shooting of a physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland in September, 2010, and the January 1st, 2011 stabbing murder of an engineer at Suburban Hospital in Maryland by an employee angry because he didn’t get a good performance evaluation, keep the issue on the front pages, and cause hospital staff to worry about their personal safety.
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. Nurses are on the front lines, and they are the most likely to be attacked, a fact which has not been lost on the nurse’s associations who are actively lobbying for safer working conditions.
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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