Workplace Violence in Physician Practices

July 19, 2017 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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Violence is a concern for everyone in a healthcare setting. If an ambulatory care center or physician practice is considered to be at risk for violence or experiences a violent event, its workers may not function effectively, its reputation may suffer, workers' compensation costs may increase, and patients may go elsewhere for treatment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines workplace violence as "any threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site" (OSHA "Workplace Violence"). Accrediting agencies, including Joint Commission and the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, require physician practices to assess the risk of workplace violence and take steps to address it, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires that healthcare organizations provide a safe setting for patients and ensure that they are not subjected to any form of abuse or harassment. Additionally, in 2015, OSHA released updated voluntary guidelines for preventing violence in healthcare (OSHA "Guidelines").

This self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ) is designed to help risk managers and practice managers determine their organization's violence risk level and identify improvements or additions needed in their organization's violence prevention programs. Regardless of an organization's risk level, Healthcare Risk Control (HRC) recommends that practices complete this SAQ in its entirety, as it may help an organization identify areas in which violence prevention policies or procedures need to be developed or revised. For example, all healthcare workers, including physicians and volunteers, should know what to do if a violent incident does occur and how to report such an incident. HRCincludes nonemployees in the definition of healthcare worker for two reasons: first, security is everyone's concern; second, anyone can be either a victim or an assailant. Organization policymakers should determine whether a reason exists to distinguish between employee and nonemployee healthcare workers. HRCrecommends organizations complete this SAQ annually...

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