Quality & Patient Safety

Q&A: Joint Commission on workplace violence

Patient Safety Monitor, July 1, 2018

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 The Joint Commission is the latest healthcare heavy-hitter to call for better protection of healthcare workers, announcing the creation of Sentinel Event Alert 59, which addresses violence—physical and verbal—against healthcare workers. About 75% of workplace assaults occur in the healthcare and social service sector each year, and violence-related injuries are four times more likely to cause healthcare workers to take time off from work than in other kinds of industries.


Patient Safety Monitor Journal spoke with Victoria Fennel, of Compass Clinical Consulting, about the alert and healthcare’s culture of violence. 

Q: In your opinion, how much of the workplace violence (WPV) issues in healthcare is cultural (behaviors around WPV) vs. policy? 
Fennel: When you think about violence, most of all let me say that it’s a learned behavior. It comes from modeling or observing behaviors in which there was violence. From a cultural perspective, if violence can be a learned behavior, then I think responding to violent behavior must become a learned response. 

You can have all the policies in the world, but if you don’t have some things in place culturally that help leaders and staff understand how to respond to those situations, then it’s not going to be real helpful. It has to be more than just policies and procedures. There has to be some kind of accountability in terms of leadership and how they won’t tolerate certain types of behaviors so that the staff feels comfortable going to authority and expressing things that have occurred where they felt like there was the potential for them to be harmed, be it through verbal abuse or if they experienced physical abuse.   people to be concerned.

This is an excerpt from a member only article. To read the article in its entirety, please login or subscribe to Patient Safety Monitor.

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