The Healthcare Hub

Countering the Rise of Workplace Violence in Healthcare

Monday, April 4, 2022

The role of visitor management beyond the pandemic

For many people, the phrase “unprecedented times” is washed out and watered down. But for over-worked, understaffed healthcare facilities, the term’s meaning grows deeper by the day.

Covid-19 might be the newest unforeseen threat to hit healthcare workers, but it's just the latest stressor for medical facilities already challenged with potentially hostile work environments.

Workplace violence is nothing new in healthcare. For years, emergency rooms, labor and delivery departments and ICUs have been inundated with scared, anxiety-filled visitors creating the very real potential for volatility toward staff members. In 2018, healthcare workers experienced 73% of all violent, nonfatal workplace injuries1, and the pandemic only amplified this threat. Fewer new clinicians are joining the ranks, and those serving are getting pushed with greater demand for care, raising the tension in the industry to an all-time high.

This dilemma has led to a more intense search for effective workplace safety solutions. Managing who’s visiting medical facilities is an important part of these solutions as workplace violence increases.

Violence doesn’t always include physical harm
Workplace violence can be categorized as:

  • Incivility – A rude, impolite, or offensive comment; verbal abuse
  • Bullying – The verbal and non-verbal intimidation or coercion of someone viewed as weak or vulnerable, including sabotage or interference with work getting done
  • Physical violence – Everything from punching, grabbing, and spitting, to facing an active shooter

Before the pandemic, news reports of assaults on healthcare workers usually centered on physical attacks. However, heated disagreements over mask mandates and infection control procedures are well-publicized, showcasing how vulnerable healthcare workers are to incivility.

Improving safety with standards
There are indicators that the pandemic increased awareness and investment in visitor management programs. For example, a 2018 hospital security survey showed that only 42% of hospitals reported having a visitor management system.2 However, the 2021 Healthcare Crime Survey published by The International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) Foundation shows that 73% of hospitals used visitor management programs in 2020.3

Effective January 1, 2022, the Joint Commission’s new and revised workplace violence prevention requirements4 combined with other resources such as OSHA 3148-06R 2016 Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers5 provides four areas that can be addressed to help improve visitor management and workplace safety. By utilizing these standards, decision-makers can take actions to help:

  • Create and maintain a culture of safety and quality throughout the facility.
  • Train staff to identify and report visitors not wearing photo badges.
  • Improve environmental design by providing visitors with a welcoming self-service check-in experience — reducing visitor-to-staff interaction for increased safety.
  • Enhance administrative controls by conducting wellness checks for infection control protocols, extending the code of conduct to visitors and enabling visitor watch/blocklists for violators.

Monitoring and controlling visitor access is one measure that could mitigate workplace violence, but it requires collaboration at every level of the organization. Installing kiosks at visitor access points is a move forward.

The benefits of having check-in kiosks in medical facilities
Visitor check-in kiosks are modern visitor access management solutions that help to reduce human friction points and streamline facility access.

Kiosks can allow healthcare facilities to digitally capture visitor information during the check-in process—increasing visibility and empowering organizations with tools to help stay informed on who is entering the building. Not only can they capture a visitor’s photo and purpose of visit at check-in, but they also may provide wellness screening through integrated thermal sensing and visitor responses to health declarations.

Imagine the effectiveness of a standard reporting mechanism for critical visitor access information regarding who has accessed the facility in the case of emergencies or evacuations. The more accessible this information is for safety and security officers, the faster decisions and actions can be taken. In addition, kiosk-based visitor access management systems allow for an internal watchlist that helps to flag previous violators.

Workplace violence has been a problem for years, and medical professionals are ready for more peace of mind. Learn More