In an effort to curb workplace violence against healthcare workers, The Joint Commission, a national healthcare accreditation body, recently issued seven actions healthcare organizations are encouraged to implement.

The Joint Commission, which accredits and certifies thousands of healthcare organizations and programs throughout the U.S., has several standards that relate directly or indirectly to workplace violence, including Leadership, Rights and Responsibilities of the Individual, Provision of Care, Treatment and Services, Environment for Care, and Emergency Management standards. In addition, the Joint Commission recently issued seven actions to help healthcare organizations recognize and acknowledge workplace violence directed against healthcare workers, better prepare staff to handle violence, and more effectively address the aftermath:

  • Clearly define workplace violence and put systems into place across the organization that enable staff to report workplace violence instances, including verbal abuse;
  • Recognizing that data comes from several sources, capture, track and trend all reports of workplace violence, including verbal abuse and attempted assaults when no harm occurred;
  • Provide appropriate follow-up and support to victims, witnesses and others affected by workplace violence, including psychological counseling and trauma-informed care if necessary;
  • Review each case of workplace violence to determine contributing factors. Analyze data related to workplace violence, and worksite conditions, to determine priority situations for intervention;
  • Develop quality improvement initiatives to reduce incidents of workplace violence;
  • Train all staff, including security, in de-escalation, self-defense and response to emergency codes; and
  • Evaluate workplace violence reduction initiatives.

Healthcare organizations should re-evaluate their current protocols and ensure they have appropriate mechanisms in place to identify, investigate and respond to workplace violence, including incidents that may not rise to the level of a sentinel event but still constitute workplace violence (e.g., verbal abuse against healthcare workers from patients). Also, healthcare organizations should recognize that failure to implement measures to identify, prevent and respond to workplace violence could affect, among other things, their accreditation status with the Joint Commission.