Late last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a public Request for Information (RFI) on the extent and nature of workplace violence in health care organizations as it considers developing a new standard to prevent workplace violence in health care and social-assistance settings. In its RFI, the administration cited a recent Government Accountability Office report that found that the rate of workplace violence against employees who provide health care and social assistance services is substantially higher than that of private industry as a whole.
It's an issue that many organizations, including the American Hospital Association (AHA), are addressing. In fact, the AHA recently created the Hospitals Against Violence task force to combat violence occurring in communities and within health care facilities. Also, the American Society for Healthcare Engineering recently held a web chat with the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) on seven strategies hospitals can use to prepare for a possible active-shooter event in their facilities.
Another way to prevent violence in health care facilities is through technology and design. According to respondents to the 2016 Hospital Security Survey, electronic access control, video surveillance systems and mass notification systems are top technologies used to help keep patients and staff safe.
Thomas A. Smith, CHPA, CPP, president of Healthcare Security Consultants Inc., Chapel Hill, N.C., says that security needs to be designed into health care facilities. A good place to start, he says, "is to study the IAHSS Security Design Guidelines for Healthcare Facilities and develop systems security requirements that each design project implements as a required part of any new project."