Anyone that works in an emergency room knows how violent they have become in the last few years. Call it the stresses of everyday life coupled with the increased use of drugs and the rise in mental health issues, but violence in the ER is a serious concern. Whether it is an aggressive verbal outburst, or worse yet a weapons incident, the chances that an incident will happen in your emergency department are real. Are you ready? Have you planned? Has the staff been trained on what to do?

In California, a law went into effect in 2010 that requires certain measures be taken to deal with the violence in healthcare, plan for the response, and track trends, so that you can reduce your number of incidents.

This is likely to spread across the country in the future. Do you act now, or wait until legislation is passed in your area? The answer to that question depends on how much liability you are willing to accept.

Since the Joint Commission (Sentinel Alert Number 45 Issued June 2010) is also watching this problem, and how hospitals respond to it, you may end up with a Sentinel Event. If it goes that far and someone has been seriously injured, it really is too late. Even if your organization does not subscribe to the Joint Commission accreditation, do you really want to wait until a staff member is injured, or worse yet, killed before you take the appropriate steps to reduce your risks?

Contact Us for a Comprehensive Security Risk Assessment and Reduce Your Risks and Liability Exposure Now

Since the Joint Commission, the Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS), and quite possibly other regulatory and government agencies may all be at your site shortly after an incident, you need to be ready now. Also remember that the media will be at your medical center sometimes within minutes of the incident. And last but not least, the last group that will show up could well be the lawyers for the victims.

If your emergency room has not experienced a violent attack or major incident yet, you are very fortunate. However, we would recommend that you do not fall into complacency and think that it never will. In all reality, your chances of a serious incident are above average regardless of your location.

Being Reactive, Versus Proactive, is a Very Risky Business Model for Your Patients and Staff

Without a properly conducted security risk assessment, you will never know how vulnerable your organization actually is. The world of healthcare is changing, and it may be considered negligent to not keep current on the changes in healthcare security issues.

Laws are being passed, and labor groups are pushing for more security and a safer workplace. After all, everyone wants a safe and secure work environment, right? According to OSHA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the majority of workplace violence cases are non-fatal assaults/battery. In a four year period it is reported that about 50% of all workplace violence related injuries from occupational assaults, and violent acts, occurred in healthcare and social services. Healthcare workers had the highest percentages of violence related injuries reported.

So the problem is real. Nursing associations are also studying the problem, and in 2010, released the “Emergency Department Violence Surveillance Study.”

How to Prevent Emergency Room Violence

The first thing you do is assess your risks or threats, along with your vulnerabilities. To do so, you need to determine to what extent you are willing to go. In other words, some organizations will put all needed resources on the problem, while others will do the minimal efforts. Which way is best? It will depend on what outcome you are trying to achieve. The question is that when there is a major incident in your emergency department, how much liability is your organization willing to accept?.

Second, you would review your risks and decide which ones you can reduce and/or eliminate, and what security measures are needed.  Security measures could be security technology, security staffing, security training, non-violent crisis intervention training, training for handling aggressive behavior, or a combination of all of these measures.

Last but not least, you want to set up an ongoing review and assessment of your organization and E.R. to watch for trends and other concerns as time goes on.  This problem of emergency room violence is not going away anytime soon.  In-fact, all predictions are pointing to an increased number of incidents, and more severe incidents like active shooters and gang violence becoming more prevalent in healthcare and hospital settings in the future.

Internal Security Department Management

If you have an internal security department, and they are competent and capable of managing the process, then they have probably already handled this for you. However, in many cases, internal staff does not have the experience and background to know where to look for all risks. The main reason this might be the case is they only work for your organization. They have not had the experience of seeing other organization’s responses to the problem, or have had all available resources at their fingertips. It has also been found that in some cases internal staff have failed to disclose findings because they feel that doing so will subject them to scrutiny for not speaking up earlier. These are just some of the reasons why many organizations look to an outside security expert to help them through this process.

Consult with an Outside Emergency Room Security Expert

An outside expert, or qualified healthcare security consultant, can bring many more resources to the table to identify vulnerabilities and risks, and they will not be biased or judgmental. In healthcare security, it is best to look for a consultant with years of experience working in healthcare security in a management position. The reason for this is you want someone that will understand your organization’s mission and purpose because they know the complexities of healthcare settings.

Consult with a Certified Healthcare Security Expert

Another thing to consider is a consultant that is a Certified Healthcare Protection Administrator (CHPA). Also look for a consultant that is Board Certified in Security Management as a Certified Protection Professional (CPP). This certification is awarded to professionals with a very high level of experience, education and knowledge of the security management practices.

Protection Management, LLC is a Certified Healthcare Protection Administrator and a Certified Protection Professional

Our principal inspector is one of a few professional security consultants that have both certifications. Make sure that when you hire a consultant, that they are qualified to perform the service and have the background needed to truly understand healthcare. Experience, training and professional certifications are a true measurement of qualifications.

Contact Us Today to Reduce Your Emergency Room Risk

If you are ready to address your risks, and reduce your risks in your emergency room, please contact us today. Protection Management can assist you with developing a plan and putting into place measures to meet or exceed the existing laws and requirements, reduce your risks and liability exposure, and help you to keep your patients, visitors, and staff safe.

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