Not so home-sweet-home healthcare

OSHA Healthcare Connection, December 29, 2009

NIOSH is about to publish a study examining the risks of job-related violence for home healthcare workers.

As the baby boomer generation ages, “a safe, trained, secure, and motivated home healthcare work force will be essential for efficient and high-quality healthcare delivery,” according to NIOSH. Providing care in the home, however, is difficult on practitioners for number of safety reasons including susceptibility to violent situations, adds the agency.

Preliminary findings of the study, which is awaiting peer review, have shown:

  • Nearly 5% of home health workers have reported being assaulted (hit, kicked, pinched, shoved, or bitten) by a patient one or more times during the past 12 months
  • Predictive risk factors of physical assault by patients include, patient handling, caring for patients with dementia, and feeling threatened by violence from others in and around the patients' homes
  • Assaulted workers were more likely to shorten visits when feeling threats to their safety, a justifiable strategy, says NIOSH, but one that “inevitably reduces the quality of patient care”

See the OSHA Healthcare Advisor Tools and Online Learning pages for resources and training courses on preventing workplace violence in healthcare facilities.

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