Workplace Violence

March 1, 2011 | Ambulatory Care Risk Management


Physician practices have a duty to provide a safe environment for patients, family and friends accompanying patients, physicians, and employees. By nature, physician practices and clinics allow open access and promote a welcoming environment, increasing the risk that the “wrong people” can walk in the front door (Pennetti). For example, staff members may be exposed to dangerous confrontations with patients, family members, or ill-meaning trespassers. Patients and visitors may become agitated if they feel their needs are not being met, and drugs or expensive equipment may become targets of robbery. Abortion clinics and facilities that house animal research laboratories face the unique challenge of being targeted by protestors who may become violent. Staff members in practices that provide care and services to patients with mental health issues or substance abuse problems have a significant risk of encountering combative or violent behavior. Staff members may be perpetrators of violence or bullying behavior, as well. While practices or clinics in urban areas with high crime rates may be more prone to violent events, those in suburban or rural locales are also vulnerable.

This Guidance Article presents strategies for identifying potentially violent individuals and preventing violence occurrences. In addition, it provides information on managing violent events as they unfold and during the aftermath and on training employees in violence prevention and response. This Guidance Article focuses on events that occur inside or on the grounds of the office or clinic. Issues such as identifying patients who are victims of abuse or domestic violence will be covered in separate Guidance Articles.


[OSHA Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence...

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