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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

The Growing Threat of Violence in Healthcare

By Gary Evans, AHC Media Senior Staff Writer

Citing the increasing threat of violence in healthcare, The Joint Commission (TJC) has launched a workplace violence prevention portal to help hospitals respond and prepare through a variety of resources.

"The violent situations occurring across our country spill over into our emergency departments, behavioral health settings and elsewhere,” Ann Scott Blouin, RN, PhD, FACHE, says in a TJC blog post. “In a matter of seconds, your patients, staff and visitors can become victims in these frightening and often devastating situations.”

The portal is comprised of various resources and strategies from researchers and clinicians in the field. Nurses on the frontlines of healthcare are the group most likely to be confronted with violence. In that regard, TJC cites a 2009 poll that 80% of nurses did not feel safe at work.

The problem does not appear to have improved. Between 2010-2014 TJC received reports of 19 shootings in accredited healthcare settings, resulting in 27 fatalities, Blouin notes.

In addition, there are signs that the work culture in some hospitals and healthcare settings may contribute to an escalation of violence. A review article published this year found that “episodes of workplace violence of all categories are grossly under reported.” The author found that nurses cite fear of retribution from supervisors and disapproval of administrators as barriers to reporting, possibly due to a prevailing “the customer is always right” mentality.

For more on this story see the December 2016 issue of Hospital Employee Health

Gary Evans has written about infectious diseases, infection control and other healthcare issues for more than 25 years. His writing and reporting have been honored with five awards from the National Press Club in Washington, DC.