How to Help Prevent Causes of Healthcare Workplace Violence With RTLS Technology

August 11, 2022

Let's look at solutions on how to help prevent the causes of healthcare workplace violence.

It might be surprising, but workplace violence is very prevalent in the healthcare industry. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 38% of healthcare workers experience workplace violence at some point in their careers. That’s a hefty number, and a question worth serious consideration. How are you protecting your healthcare workers?

Instigators of workplace violence in healthcare vary. Sources can be patients, visitors, intruders, or co-workers — it just depends on the breeding grounds of the situation. But regardless of how the incidents arise, it is a serious problem and something worth working to prevent.

Workplace violence in the healthcare industry can be a very challenging issue to overcome. There are strategies to help protect the safety of healthcare workers though, and a major solution is rooted in technological advancements. 

RTLS technology — shorthand for real-time location systems — has transformed the medical world. There are multiple benefits of RTLS in the healthcare world, including increasing staff efficiency and patient experience, but it can also significantly improve the day-to-day safety of healthcare workers.

Let’s break this surprising trend down further, and look at solutions on how to help prevent the causes of healthcare workplace violence.

Workplace Violence Is Frequent in Healthcare

Research shows that hospital workers are 4x more likely to experience workplace violence than in other fields. That means that nurses, doctors, and other caregivers are putting their safety on the line every day to serve those who need it. According to the Joint Commission, exposure to workplace violence can impair effective patient care and lead to psychological distress, job dissatisfaction, absenteeism, high turnover, and higher costs.

Because of these concerning statistics and their effects on patient care and staff wellbeing, it is vital to ensure that healthcare workers feel safe and supported while providing necessary patient care. Through RTLS technology, Cox Prosight can help.

Causes of Workplace Violence in Healthcare

Firstly, it is important to understand potential causes of violence within a healthcare facility. Unfortunately, there is not one easily pinpointable cause of violence in the healthcare system that can be directly dealt with — instead, there are a variety of factors that can contribute to the issue. To prepare healthcare facilities for the challenges of workplace violence, the facility must meet the array of challenges head-on. 

Stressful Situations Between Patients and Families

Every healthcare facility encompasses a wide range of treatments — from someone rushing into the emergency room with a broken bone to long-term care focused on helping patients with diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. This range of ailments brings a diverse group of patients and family members into hospitals, some of whom may be in distressing or uncomfortable situations. Tensions can lead to agitation, and in worst cases, violence.

A healthcare worker needs to be properly prepared to navigate surprises. Ensuring that staff knows the best way to report an issue when it arises, and how to respond if a coworker needs assistance is essential for protecting the wellbeing of healthcare workers and patients alike.

Staff Shortages

Following the battle with COVID-19, the healthcare industry has dealt with a somewhat dramatic fallout. According to some studies, the number of job vacancies for nurses doubled between 2020 and 2021.

That’s a troubling statistic, but it’s also not a surprise, considering the heroic battle our healthcare workers have gone through when trying to treat those suffering during the pandemic. People are burned out and looking for other career options. 

However, this lack of labor puts a strain on all elements of the healthcare industry. There are not enough workers to treat patients on a scale that is similar to a pre-pandemic world. Tensions may become high among staffers, and people react emotionally — which can unfortunately lead to workplace violence. 

Lack of Protective Regulations

Similar to the staff shortages, a lack of protective regulations in the healthcare space has created a world in which healthcare workers are tasked with handling situations they may not be qualified for, or might not even have the right type of training for.

This creates an unfortunate and challenging predicament — a healthcare worker might not be fully qualified to handle a situation, but they may be more qualified than anyone else who is present at the time. Because of this, healthcare workers may willingly put themselves in harm’s way. 

Protective regulations can help circumnavigate these situations. Creating a certain standard for the protection of healthcare workers will help provide additional protection to handle potentially dangerous situations. 

How to Help Prevent Workplace Violence in Healthcare

Although workplace violence in healthcare settings has several risk factors, there are protective strategies that can be implemented to help ensure that healthcare workers are safe. These strategies help staffers do their job to the best of their ability. In particular, Cox Prosight was developed to help prevent workplace violence in healthcare

Safety Badges Offer a Solution

With a challenge as wide-ranging as workplace violence in the healthcare industry, effective solutions may seem nebulous, given that the causes of violence can be rooted in a variety of reasons. However, technological advancements have given healthcare professionals a targeted approach to help implement safety measures, notably through patient and staff badges.

Staff Badges

Staff badges also work to both prevent and react to instances of workplace violence in healthcare facilities. Similar to patient badges, they provide staff with an immediate way to alert safety and security personnel when in a duress situation. 

If a staff member finds themselves in a challenging situation with a person who is suddenly and surprisingly acting violent, staff badges provide an easy, quick way to notify others who can get to the situation immediately and intervene. Not only are others discreetly made aware of the situation, so as not to let tensions escalate, but the badges allow real-time visibility into the location of the staff member where the issue is occurring. The location accuracy of the solution can help cut down on response times.

In moments like these, seconds — or even milliseconds — can make all the difference in the world. Creating infrastructure that allows staff members to act quickly and effectively is vital for preventing causes of healthcare workplace violence and offers an opportunity to ensure a situation doesn’t spin out of control. Having a system like this in place can help keep staff calm during what are typically chaotic situations, allowing them to work more efficiently to resolve the issue. If your healthcare staff feels protected, they will be able to focus on providing the best possible patient care.

Get Proactive Against Workplace Violence in Healthcare

Our healthcare workers are often faced with obstacles of understaffing, violence in the workplace, and a generally thankless mentality. In order to provide the best patient care possible, healthcare workers need to feel protected in the workplace. Cox Prosight offers technology infrastructure that can help transform the work experience for a caregiver. Transform your healthcare facility and bring it from the past into the future, setting your teams up for success for years to come.

Sharon Fanto
Head of Business Activation

Sharon’s experience includes 20 years with Cox serving in multiple markets at executive levels including Group Vice President for Cox Media. Serving clients and helping companies drive internal solutions for client safety and satisfaction. Passionate about people and committed to serve organizations. Sharon’s experience includes deep customer relationships developing solutions in addition to building a start-up e-Learning business. She is a Mason School of Business, College of William & Mary MBA graduate and holds a BS in Mass Communications from Boston University and is an ACHE Member. Sharon and her husband Brian Smith have 2 children and live in Atlanta, GA and her step-daughter lives in Los Angeles, CA.