Workplace Violence in Healthcare Explained

Updated on August 2, 2021

The healthcare profession is, unfortunately, not immune from work-related violence. However, although violence is more widespread among health workers, this doesn’t mean that it is acceptable.

Research shows that violence against healthcare workers is more prevalent than in other professions, and advocacy groups are saying that it is time for legislators to deal with the rising yet under-reported problem. 75% of almost 25,000 workplace attacks occur annually in healthcare environments, but only 30% have reported violence incidents with nurses and 26% with emergency department physicians.  Those who are not familiar with everyday events in healthcare institutions might be shocked to learn that there are so many violent disturbances that most people on the ground consider that simply to be part of the job.

However, dealing with this deadly problem is not an easy task. Violence against health workers has been a part of the workplace for years. This is most likely owing to our understanding that many violent outbursts are caused by patients dealing with the symptoms of their illness or the medications they’re taking to manage it. Furthermore, because there are few reporting guidelines among healthcare institutions, it can be difficult for healthcare workers to determine when and how to report incidences of violence.

The moment has now come to identify suitable answers, since ongoing violence in the health industry would probably add to the already imminent burnout and crises faced by health personnel. Fortunately, this issue and the stress on the health care system are becoming more and more recognized by academics, administrative bodies and politicians.

Types of Workplace Violence in the Industry

By definition, any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or threatening disruptive behavior occurring at the workplace is characterized as workplace violence. According to this concept, workplace violence might range from a petty theft at a local shop to an actual terrorist assault affecting your company. It is vital that you understand exactly what violence in the workplace comprises while designing your workplace violence prevention plan. What are the types of workplace violence as they can manifest particularly in the healthcare industry?

Type I – Criminal Intent

Individuals with criminal intent have no tie to the business or its employees in this sort of workplace violence.

Type II – A Consumer, Client, or Patient is Involved

This type involves a person who has a business relationship and turns violent while obtaining medical services of any kind.

Type III – Workplace Violence

This is defined as workers who assault or threaten another employee.

Type IV – Personal relationships

Persons who have interpersonal relationships with the intended target but have no business ties are included in this category.

Bullying – A Widespread Issue

Bullying by coworkers is one of the most widespread forms of workplace violence that is rarely reported in the media, and adds to the workplace violence in nursing that this group of medical staff faces. Nurses of all ages and levels of experience claim to be bullied by their coworkers. Bullying behavior, often known as lateral or horizontal violence, can be overt or covert. Eye-rolling, disparaging comments, exclusion, humiliation, withholding information, scapegoating, intimidation, and backstabbing are all examples of this type of behavior. Bullying frequently leads to lowered professional and personal status, loneliness, and overwork. Bullying victims often find that they do not receive sufficient credit for the work and sacrifices that they make.

The Cost of Workplace Violence in the Healthcare Industry

Workplace violence, in whatever form, is costly to both the individual and the organization. It has long-term consequences for our healthcare system and has a significant personal and professional influence on professionals. Workplace violence can have a variety of consequences, including negative effects on self-esteem, coworker relationships, patient care, professional development, recruiting, and retention. Individuals who have experienced psychological trauma are often apprehensive about returning to work. They may feel a sense of remorse and helplessness. Workplace violence also has an economic impact, such as the need to take time off work, legal expenditures, and out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Open Lines of Guilt-Free Communication

One of the first aspects to look at when moving towards preventing and addressing this issue is communication. Employees in organizations with open channels of communication are better able to notice and report violent acts before they become more serious. An organization can develop an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their experiences by keeping lines of communication open between peers and management.

Make It Easier to Report Violence in the Workplace

Often, healthcare organizations either do not have a workplace violence reporting process in place or have one that is highly cumbersome. Both scenarios discourage victims from speaking up and allow abusers to continue abusing them. Healthcare managers are encouraged to design a simple reporting mechanism that allows personnel to tell leaders when there is an incident of violence. Leaders who have more knowledge are better able to track, respond to, and combat workplace harassment.

Join the Dots

Quick reporting technology has been shown to be successful in increasing the ease of reporting workplace violence events by health systems. This research, which is more scholarly in character, is a little more difficult to find, but it does provide useful information on the desired content and format of incident reports. Incidents of workplace violence should be documented and studied on a regular basis, allowing healthcare administrators to spot patterns of abuse — such as which departments are most affected, repeat offenders, and so on — and adapt their strategies as needed.

Zero-Tolerance – Adapt This Attitude towards Violence

Organizations should establish zero-tolerance standards that clearly identify a workplace code of conduct and the repercussions for those who violate it. The creation of this type of legal document sends a message to the organization that lateral aggression will not be permitted.

Create Awareness of the Problem

Many healthcare staff are apathetic about violence because they believe it is unavoidable. Making staff more aware and conscious of workplace violence — what it looks like, who it affects, and why it’s harmful – assists in improving incident reporting and keeping employees safe.

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The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.