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Addressing Workplace Violence in Health Care

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What can health care staff and leaders do to help prevent violence and mitigate the impact?
The Joint Commission has some ideas.

by Ann Scott Blouin, PhD, RN, FACHE


Caring for patients and for each other today unfortunately must also include understanding the potential harm to patients and staff safety associated with the sad reality of violence in our workplaces.

Many of us in health care have witnessed or experienced workplace violence firsthand. Workers in health care are five times more likely to be victims of nonfatal assaults or violent acts than the average worker in all other occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is critical, therefore, for those in the health care community to receive key resources to help them prepare for and address, as well as hopefully prevent, violent situations from taking place.

The Joint Commission recently introduced
a virtual workforce violence resource center
to help health care organizations deal with
this very important problem.

Health care staff come to their employment settings each shift expecting to help patients. Few physicians, nurses, or other health professionals would anticipate having to deal with the increasing episodes of violence spilling over from our communities into our hospitals, ambulatory centers, and other health care locations. Indeed these incidences can hurt or kill patients, staff, and visitors. “Active shooter” situations have become another important component of emergency management preparedness.


What can health care staff and leaders do to help prevent violence and mitigate the impact? One thing is to seek out education about the issue and potential solutions. The Joint Commission recently introduced a virtual Workforce Violence Resource Center to help health care organizations deal with this very important problem. This portal, which is free and open to all, contains links to articles and research, “From the Field” case studies, and links to federal and state agencies that address workplace violence.

The American Hospital Association has also announced resources available through its Hospitals Against Violence initiative.


The high reliability concept of "mindfulness” is an apt description of the vigilance needed to notice anything unusual or something that just "feels wrong” as you go about patient care. That intuition, coupled with education on how to de-escalate crisis situations and limit damage, can save lives.

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Does your organization have formal plans for addressing or preventing workplace violence? Comment on this post below. Note: to post a comment you must be logged in. Register or log in.


Ann Scott Blouin, PhD, RN, FACHE, is executive vice president, Customer Relations, at The Joint Commission. She serves on the National Patient Safety Foundation's Board of Directors and is a lifetime member of the American Society of Professionals in Patient Safety at NPSF. Contact her at

Tags:  workforce safety  workforce violence 

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