By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

The Joint Commission (TJC) has announced new and revised standards for workplace violence prevention, set to take effect Jan. 1, 2022. The agency calls for more education and better training conducted more often, improved data collection for more thorough monitoring, and an organizationwide commitment to a culture of safety.

To maintain TJC accreditation, the agency expects hospitals to provide workplace violence prevention training at the time of hire, annually, and any time there are changes in policy. Organizations maintain prevention programs, but the agency will expect leaders to conduct an annual assessment of the effectiveness of these programs. To do that, leaders must continuously collect data, monitor conditions, report incidents, and make improvements. TJC directs organizations to designate a leader to oversee all these efforts.

When announcing these changes, TJC noted how healthcare workers were more likely to experience workplace violence than other workers. “However, workplace violence is underreported, indicating that the actual rates may be much higher. Exposure to workplace violence can impair effective patient care and lead to psychological distress, job dissatisfaction, absenteeism, high turnover, and higher costs,” the agency explained.

Practicing clinicians, professional associations, government workers, and academic researchers worked with TJC to craft these revisions. The Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI), an international training group focused on violence prevention and de-escalation training, said it supports the updated standards, “indicating the industry is responding strongly to a growing problem that needs to be addressed.”

“Hospital workers, nurses, doctors, and administrators have been sounding the alarm for some time now about growing incidents of violence in the workplace within their settings and the need for proactive training and programs that can help reduce these threats,” CPI President Susan Driscoll said in a statement obtained by Relias Media. “Providing a more precise definition of workplace violence will only help reduce risk and protect the safety of all involved.”

Without proper prevention procedures in place, administrators not only put their employees’ safety in jeopardy, they open facilities to possible legal exposure, as reported in the July issue of ED Legal Letter. Indeed, sanctions and fines have been levied recently for facilities that exposed healthcare workers to violence, as reported in the July issue of Hospital Employee Health.

In the June issue of Healthcare Risk Management, experts suggested risk managers should work closely with hospital security directors to coordinate efforts to address workplace violence and other threats. The challenge is balancing security with welcoming the public and providing a pleasant atmosphere.

Further, research suggests peer support programs that may have been developed to support clinicians following an adverse event or medical error also could be leveraged to help those suffering from stress, anxiety, or other emotional difficulties following incidents of workplace violence, as reported in the June issue of ED Management.