Workplace violence is defined by OSHA as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It can affect and involve workers, clients, customers, and visitors. Workplace violence ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide.” Of the nearly 25,000 workplace assaults that occurred annually from 2011 to 2013, 75% were in a healthcare setting.
Even prior to the pandemic, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a 34% growth rate in the home health and personal care aide industry from 2019 to 2029. For perspective, the average growth rate for all occupations is four percent. Currently, the novel coronavirus is fueling increased demand for home healthcare services, propelling the industry to even faster growth.
While the healthcare industry works to address this crisis and better protect healthcare workers, home care workers are faced with increased risk and unique circumstances that companies must proactively address to ensure the safety of their staff.
Types of Healthcare Workplace Violence
Healthcare workplace violence is a “recognized hazard in the healthcare industry” and is classified by the FBI as four different types. Within the industry, the most prevalent types of workplace violence are Type II and Type III. The table below breaks down these types and includes examples from the hospital and home health settings.
Table 1: The Four Types of Workplace Violence
|Workplace Violence Type||Description||Hospital Example||Home Health Example|
|Type I||Violent acts by criminals who have no other connection with the workplace, but enter to commit robbery or another crime||A nurse mugged in the hospital parking lot while walking to her car||A home health aide mugged while walking to or from a client’s home|
|Type II||Violence directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, or any others for whom an organization provides services||Patient physically or verbally threatening or assaulting a nurse administering care||A home health nurse being physically, verbally or sexually threatened or attacked at a client’s home|
|Type III||Violence against coworkers, supervisors or managers by a present or former employee||Verbal or emotional abuse that includes bullying between healthcare employees||Verbal or emotional abuse between home care employees|
|Type IV||Violence committed in the workplace by someone who doesn’t work there, but has a personal relationship with an employee – an abusive spouse or domestic partner||A person with a relationship to the nurse outside of work that spills over to the workplace||A person with an existing relationship to the home care worker outside of the client’s home that spills over to the client’s home or agency workplace|
Table 2: The Unique Risks in Hospital and Home Care Settings
|Hospital Healthcare Risk||Home Care Risks|
Why Address Healthcare Workplace Violence
While these lists are not comprehensive, they do illustrate the constant exposure that hospital and home care workers incur on a consistent basis. This is why it’s imperative for all stakeholders within the healthcare industry to work together to develop strategies, protocols, and a culture that reduces healthcare workplace violence.
Not only is this a moral imperative, but healthcare companies can reduce their bottom line costs. In 2016, the American Hospital Association estimated that workplace violence cost U.S. hospitals and health systems $2.7 billion. Of that, unreimbursed medical care for victims totaled $852 million and medical care, staffing, indemnity, and other costs related to violence against hospital employees totaled $429 million. Proactively reducing workplace violence could help hospitals and health systems save up to $1.2 billion.
Workplace violence is a complex problem for healthcare and home care systems to address. At POM, we’re building a platform to help organizations understand and implement effective programs to reduce workplace violence. Our first product, POM Safe, provides organizations with an immediate measure to address workplace violence.
POM Safe is a portable, discrete programmable alarm device that only requires a tap to activate and immediately call for help. Our device eliminates the need for employees to unlock their phone and open an app to call for help. In many situations, employees are in immediate danger and only have the ability to tap a button in the case of an emergency.