Avoid Workplace Violence with Attention to “Red Flags”

October 28, 2015 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​"Workplace violence can be avoided or minimized if we know how to recognize warning signs," said Carolyn Wolf, JD, MS, MBA, speaking at the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management annual conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Noting that healthcare and social service workers are perennially the most frequent victims of workplace violence among all U.S. industries, Wolf explained that this is because patients are often in pain, medicated, and in unfamiliar surroundings, and that these factors can result in agitation, disorientation, and sometimes even violent behavior. Reporting of some incidents can be inhibited by workers' belief that violence is "part of the job" or, worse, that they will be blamed for allowing violence to happen despite training that they may have received. Wolf encouraged organizations to have in place a behavioral intervention team responsible for gathering information about "disruptive, problematic, or concerning behavior" in intervening when appropriate to stop those behaviors from developing into violent actions.

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