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Workplace Violence Prevention: Team Collaboration is the Key

True or False … in many healthcare facilities, workplace violence is exclusively a security issue? In many instances, the answer would be true. However, in order for healthcare facilities to properly address the issue of workplace violence, a collaborative team effort amongst several disciplines within the healthcare facility needs to occur.

At Metropolitan Hospital Center (MHC) in New York city we have designed a team of managers from the security, safety, risk management, patient safety, quality management, emergency, behavioral health service and human resources departments that convene on a regular basis and carry out specific functions that address workplace violence in our hospital. The team is charged with discussing/reviewing workplace violence incidents, planning and implementing countermeasures, assessing associated risks, drafting procedures and providing guidance and training to hospital staff. The team is dedicated to developing a simplified process that provides education of and awareness to the inherent dangers associated with an acute care healthcare facility, and develops practices and solutions that help prevent and respond to incidents of workplace violence.

At MHC, the Workplace Violence Prevention Team is actually a subcommittee of MHC’s Physical Environment committee. The subcommittee has direct reporting responsibilities to the Physical Environment committee as well as the hospital’s senior leadership. The subcommittee has defined a hospital-wide policy statement that outlines the commitment of hospital administration to ensuring the safety of all patients, staff and visitors, and has also developed a detailed workplace violence prevention policy and procedure. In addition, the subcommittee has created a formal documentation process for workplace violence incidents so that they can be tracked and trended in order to provide proper remedies, training and countermeasures. Equally important, the subcommittee has developed a mandatory employee training curriculum: “PREVENT, RESPOND, REPORT” that provides education and awareness for all employees on early detection of workplace violence prevention symptoms – (PREVENT), de-escalation techniques (RESPOND) and how to properly document an incident (REPORT).

The team’s multi-disciplinary composition allows for quick recognition and action on items that require a rapid response. Having the department managers of the key departments on the team helps with pertinent issues such as union concerns, safety and security matters, patient care implications and community concerns. These issues are undertaken in a proficient, straightforward manner with input from the key stakeholders, avoiding obstacles that might otherwise encumber the process, such as communication breakdowns, role responsibilities and senior management insight and support.

The collaboration of the subcommittee engaging in cross-functional alignment has proven to be a valuable strategy in Metropolitan Hospital’s workplace violence prevention program. The team’s coordinated effort has lead to more efficient management of the prevention process through effective focus, execution and analysis. The collaboration approach has also allowed for expanded program oversight without the commitment of additional resources, as well as providing a well-balanced solution approach to workplace violence incidents, their causes, their preventive measures and ultimately, their outcomes.  

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