Medical workers have been working endlessly throughout the COVID pandemic. Last month, we reported on the rising suicide rates among healthcare workers. Another epidemic facing these staff members is the rise of violent behaviors among clinic and hospital visitors. We explore the causes and implications of this surge of aggression in care settings below.
Staff Shortages in Clinics and Hospitals
According to a recent study, nearly one in five healthcare workers have quit their jobs. This can be attributed to several factors such as pay cuts, longer hours, and employee burnout. Whatever the reasons may be, an understaffed healthcare environment inevitably leads to aggression.
Longer wait times cause irritability. Whether someone is waiting to be seen or cannot see someone in a specific time frame, there tends to be backlash. In a healthcare setting, it is imperative to try to avoid this as much as possible. A solution to this can be strategic appointment setting or perhaps investing in online and mobile waiting rooms. If people can reserve a time slot and be notified when to come in, they do not have to wait to be seen.
Medical scheduling software can also reduce the cases of no-shows and create more time to get patients through the door at their convenience without crowded waiting areas. This helps both the patient and healthcare practice plan accordingly and avoid inpatient aggression or conflict.
Employee Conflict Management
Another negative implication of staff shortages involves internal aggression between healthcare workers. An environment of smaller, overworked staff members is a recipe for irritability and lack of patience among peers. This video by OmniSure discusses the importance of conflict management in a work setting.
Now more than ever, clinical settings must invest in mental health resources for their staff members so that they can do their job effectively and without conflict. In order to mitigate the risks of overworked and distracted staff members performance, investing in mental health resources mitigates the risk of malpractice. This is the sole responsibility of leadership in medical organizations.
Mitigating Harm During Extreme Instances of Violence
While we have explored some of the ways healthcare facilities can ease the tensions of a stressful atmosphere, the signs are not always clear when an extremely violent event unfolds. CEO of OmniSure Michelle Foster Earle explains, “…when preparing for aggressive acts, step one in an effective plan is prevention. A good place to start is with a security risk assessment by a qualified expert who will determine what the vulnerabilities are and make recommendations to reduce risk.” Now more than ever, this is absolutely necessary in clinical settings. Recommendations to mitigate violence will be specific to setting, staffing, and patient demographics but might include extensive training, panic buttons, metal detectors, security cameras, strategically placed mirrors, and prohibiting firearms.
The unfortunate reality of increased violence is something medical staff, patients, underwriters, and insurance carriers must keep in mind moving into the future. With awareness, proper education, and training, mitigating risk of violence is easier.