Working in a health care setting can be one of the most rewarding occupations. Yet, it can also be dangerous if adequate health and safety measures are not taken. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), healthcare workers must have the right to provide care in a safe setting.
CMS believes that healthcare workers have the right to provide care in a safe setting free from any kind of threat or harm due to workplace violence. With proper training, staffing levels, and ongoing assessment of patients/residents for aggressive behavior, healthcare facilities can create an environment where everyone feels secure enough to do their job properly without fear of attack or harm from those receiving care or treatment. It is imperative that facilities take the necessary steps towards protecting their staff from any kind of threat or harm due to workplace violence. Doing so will help ensure the safety and security of all involved in providing care within these settings.
CMS Requirements for Health and Safety
The CMS has implemented health and safety requirements that are designed to protect healthcare workers from workplace violence. These protections include requiring hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare settings to develop a plan for responding to violent incidents, providing access to de-escalation techniques and other preventative measures such as providing information about how staff should respond if an incident occurs, conducting risk assessments, developing protocols for reporting incidents, making sure appropriate security measures are in place, and providing employees with training on how to recognize signs of aggression or violence.
A recent memo from CMS was published with the following summary
Many factors contribute to this risk, including working directly with people who have a history of aggressive behavior, behavioral issues, or may be under the influence of drugs.
An April 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics Fact Sheet found that healthcare workers accounted for 73 percent of all nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses due to violence in 2018. This number has been steadily growing since tracking of these specific events began in 2011.
Exposure to workplace violence hazards come at a high cost; however, with appropriate controls in place, it can be addressed.
CMS will continue to enforce the regulatory expectations that patient and staff have an environment that prioritizes their safety to ensure effective delivery of healthcare.
Hospitals are expected to take steps towards ensuring the safety of their patients and staff by recognizing risk factors in individuals that may lead to intentional harm. This includes identifying and documenting certain environmental risks as well, such as those associated with suicidal behavior or violence toward others. Identifying known risk factors such as aggression, both verbal and non-verbal, physical behavior that is threatening, harm to others or a history of criminal offenses is essential in protecting both healthcare workers and patients that are receiving care.
Healthcare professionals should be educated on techniques for monitoring both inpatient and outpatient populations at risk while also adhering to national standards and guidelines designed to minimize these dangers whenever possible.
Healthcare Workers Have a Right to Provide Care in a Safe Setting
CMS health and safety requirements do not preclude healthcare workers from taking appropriate action to protect themselves from workplace violence. To ensure that staff members feel safe at all times, CMS recommends that healthcare facilities provide training on how to handle potentially violent situations, as well as additional staffing when needed. It is also important that healthcare providers are trained on how to assess their patients and residents for aggressive behaviors and indicators, so they can adapt their care interventions accordingly. This helps create an environment where everyone feels comfortable, secure, and cared for.
The Benefits of Health and Safety Requirements
Healthcare workers who are provided with adequate training and support are better equipped to handle potentially dangerous situations. When they understand what is expected of them in these instances, they feel more confident about providing top-notch care even under difficult circumstances. Additionally, having sufficient staffing levels allows healthcare professionals to ensure that each patient or resident receives the attention they need when needed – reducing stress for both staff members and those in their care. Finally, having clear protocols for assessing patients or residents for aggressive behavior or indicators helps prevent conflicts before they arise.
It’s important to be aware of your rights as a healthcare worker so you can protect yourself from workplace violence. If you ever feel like you are in danger, speak up and let someone know right away. In addition, CMS health and safety requirements do not prevent you from taking appropriate measures to protect yourself if necessary. Your facility must also provide sufficient training on how to handle potentially violent situations as well as ongoing assessment of patient/resident behavior in order to adapt care interventions accordingly.
In addition, if your facility does not have adequate resources or staffing levels for protection against workplace violence, it is important for them to acquire additional personnel or other resources needed for the protection of healthcare workers. This includes medical professionals such as physicians and nurses, physical therapists, aides, counselors, etc., all of whom should be trained on how best to respond when faced with potential workplace violence.
Also, if you ever witness an act of workplace violence at your facility—whether it’s verbal or physical—it is important that you report it immediately so that corrective action can be taken quickly. Reporting workplace violence helps create a safer work environment for everyone involved.
Healthcare and social service workers often put themselves at risk of workplace violence due to the behavior of their patients, clients or residents. Although there is no definitive way to predict these types of assaults, research shows that inpatient and acute psychiatric services, geriatric long term care settings urban emergency departments as well as residential/day social services present higher risks than other areas. Other factors such as physical pain, dire medical prognoses or mood altering medications can also contribute towards agitation and potentially violent behaviors’ among those being cared for.
Nursingworld.org has a great article on minimizing Risk Factors associated with workplace violence include leadership having a Workplace Violence Program in place that includes the following elements:
- Healthcare setting has a WVP Program
- Program is written
- Zero Tolerance policy
- Description of roles and responsibilities following violence
- Ways to incorporate manager and worker involvement
- Program is regular reviewed and updated
- Statement encouraging employee reporting
- Policy to protect employees reporting violence
Use the following as a guideline when creating a home health care worker safety checklist
An effective approach to creatting a home health care worker safety checklist starts with conducting a comprehensive worksite analysis. This process entails researching existing operations and procedures that may contribute to potential hazard factors, as well as enlightened areas in need of improvement. To ensure success, it’s important for organizations designate an interdisciplinary threat assessment team or coordinator responsible for implementing preventive measures based on their findings – one which ideally includes members from management, nursing staffs frontline workers and human resources departments alike.
Performing a Comprehensive Worksite Analysis
- Patient history of violent behavior
- Patient history of mental illness
- Patient history of substance abuse
- Violence in the household
- Substance abuse in the household
- Guns in the household
- Pets in the household
- Illegal activity in the household
- Criminal activity in the neighborhood
Training & Staffing Levels
In addition to the CMS health and safety requirements, it is essential that leadership at healthcare facilities ensure their staff is provided with the proper training needed in order to recognize signs of aggression or violence before they occur. It is also important that these facilities have sufficient staffing levels so that there are enough people available who are trained in de-escalation techniques should an incident arise. This will help reduce stress on healthcare workers as well as minimize the likelihood of any violent incidents occurring in the first place.
Leaders in healthcare facilities need to ensure ongoing assessment of patients and residents for aggressive behavior or indicators so they can adapt their care interventions and environment appropriately. This may include implementing additional security measures or providing more resources such as counseling or therapy services if necessary. By taking proactive steps such as these, leadership can help create a safe working environment where healthcare workers feel supported while they do their jobs effectively.
The CMS understands the importance of protecting healthcare workers from workplace violence. To this end, they have implemented health and safety requirements which require hospitals to take certain steps when it comes to preventing violent incidents from occurring in their facility. However, it is also incumbent upon leadership at these facilities to provide adequate training, sufficient staffing levels, and ongoing assessment of patients/residents for aggressive behavior so they can adapt their care interventions appropriately. Taking these steps will help create a safe working environment where healthcare workers can focus on providing quality patient care without fear of harm coming their way due its violent nature of work surroundings .