To Combat Workplace Violence, "Be Proactive," ASHRM Speakers Advise

October 25, 2017 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​To address workplace violence, healthcare organizations should be "as proactive as possible in identifying situations in which the aggression is increasing and teaching staff how to quickly look for those cues and start mitigating them as soon as possible," according to Dan Yaross, MSM, CPP, CHPA, director of security at Nationwide Children's Hospital (NCH) in Columbus, Ohio. Speaking at the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management annual conference on October 16, 2017, in Seattle, Washington, Yaross and copresenter Jim Sawyer, CHS-IV, CPP, CHPA, security director at Seattle Children's Hospital, described violence prevention programs enacted at their facilities: the Code Violet  and the Code Purple procedures at NCH and Seattle Children's, respectively. Both procedures attempt to mitigate workplace violence by advocating a "zero tolerance" philosophy for aggressive behavior and by providing ongoing continuing education and training for staff. Such training includes teaching staff to proactively look for cues such as aggression, anger, frustration, confrontational/verbal threats, abusive language, threatening gestures, and signs of drug or alcohol use. Both policies frame violence prevention as an essential job function of all staff. According to Yaross, implementing the Code Violet procedure involved a change in nursing culture, because "many nurses at the facility thought they were expected to tolerate violence and that verbal abuse and disrespectful treatment were just part of the job."

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