Effective Jan. 1, 2022, new and revised workplace violence prevention standards will apply to all accredited hospitals and critical access hospitals, The Joint Commission (TJC) recently announced.1

“According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the incidence of violence-related healthcare worker injuries has steadily increased for at least a decade,” TJC stated. “Incidence data reveal that in 2018, healthcare and social service workers were five times more likely to experience workplace violence than all other workers — comprising 73% of all nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work.”

As employee health professionals are well aware, workplace violence has traditionally been underreported and seen mistakenly by some as part of the job of dealing with patients. No more. In the sweeping re-evaluation of the healthcare system that is coming amid the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting valuable healthcare workers from patient attacks seems like an idea whose time has come.

“Exposure to workplace violence can impair effective patient care and lead to psychological distress, job dissatisfaction, absenteeism, high turnover, and higher costs,” TJC noted. “The high incidence of workplace violence prompted the creation of new accreditation requirements.”

These new and revised standards define workplace violence broadly, describing it as “an act or threat occurring at the workplace that can include any of the following: verbal, nonverbal, written, or physical aggression; threatening, intimidating, harassing, or humiliating words or actions; bullying; sabotage; sexual harassment; physical assaults; or other behaviors of concern involving staff, licensed practitioners, patients, or visitors.”

The new standards are summarized as follows (please consult the full TJC standards for details):

  • Environment of Care Standard EC.02.01.01: “The hospital manages safety and security risks.”
  • Requirement EP 17: The hospital performs a worksite analysis annually to identify and resolve workplace violence, safety, and security risks.
  • Standard EC.04.01.01: “The hospital collects information to monitor conditions in the environment.”
  • Requirement EP 1: The hospital monitors, reports, and investigates safety and security incidents, including those related to workplace violence.
  • Standard HR.01.05.03: “Staff participate in ongoing education and training.”
  • Requirement EP 29: The hospital trains staff on workplace violence issues on hire, annually, and when changes to the program warrant re-education. This education should include roles of responsibilities of workers, de-escalation training, emergency response, and incident reporting requirements.
  • Standard LD.03.01.01: “Leaders create and maintain a culture of safety and quality throughout the hospital.”
  • Requirement EP 9: Designate an individual to lead a violence prevention program developed by a multidisciplinary team. This should outline the process for support of victims and witnesses of a violent incident who may require counseling.

REFERENCE

  1. The Joint Commission. Workplace violence prevention standards. R3 Report: Requirement, Rationale, Reference. June 18, 2021.