By Rom Eizenberg, vice president, Bluvision segment of the identification technologies business within HID Global.
A doctor or a nurse can find themselves under duress in an instant. A patient unexpectedly attacks a doctor in a room. A nurse, who is leaving her shift at 3 a.m., is jumped by a masked assailant in the hospital parking lot. A patient’s angry family member confronts a doctor about the care protocol or frustration over a lack of response to the treatment. Each of these examples can create threatening situations that generate concern and could pose a risk to the safety of hospital personnel.
Hospitals and other healthcare organizations have a responsibility to protect not only patients but also clinical staff. Growing concern about the dangers that doctors, nurses and other caregivers face on a regular basis is increasing dialogue in the healthcare industry about what is needed to ensure that staff get the support from hospital security teams and law enforcement when they need it – and at exactly the location where they need it.
About 25 percent of nurses experienced workplace violence each year. While the healthcare sector makes up just 9 percent of the overall U.S. workforce, it experiences nearly as many violent injuries as all other industries combined. Between 2005 and 2014, the rate of healthcare workplace violence increased by 110 percent in private-sector hospitals, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.
According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Emergency Nursing, 76 percent of nurses at a private hospital system in Virginia said they had experienced physical or verbal abuse from patients in the previous year. Hospitals can utilize technology more effectively to reduce these violence rates and protect their caregivers, especially if such incidents escalate.
To trigger a duress signal that catapults security forces or police officers to the rescue, healthcare leaders must understand the five key things about an effective response system to address real-time duress during a high-risk situation: