New Toolkit Aims to Stem Violence In Hospitals

A total of 170 nurses, nurses aides and other hospital staff in Oregon were injured between 2013 and 2015 in attacks, mostly by patients.

When it comes to workplace violence, hospital nurses, aides and other staff members are among the most vulnerable.

In Oregon, 170 staff members at non-state acute care hospitals, like Oregon Health & Science University or Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, were injured in attacks between 2013 and 2015. Only nursing and residential care facilities had more attacks -- about 330 over the same time, according to the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Those employees were mainly attacked by the people they are employed to help - patients.

Though all hospitals have procedures to prevent workplace violence, they need to do more. So in 2014, a workgroup started meeting to come up with better procedures. Those are now available in a toolkit which was announced on Wednesday and includes ways that hospitals can make their workplaces safer for employees.

The toolkit is backed by Gov. Kate Brown and a wide array of other groups, including the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, the Oregon Nurses Association, the Service Employee International Union – Local 49, the Oregon Medical Association, the Oregon Emergency Nurses Association, the Oregon Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Northwest Organization of Nurse Executives and the Oregon Center for Nursing.

“Prevention is critical to ensuring workplace safety, and I’m pleased at the wide collaboration of this effort,” Brown said in a statement.

Other medical professionals said they expect the toolkit, which calls on hospitals to analyze their current procedures and enhance them through recommended practices, will have a positive impact.

“Comprehensive workplace violence prevention programs have a powerful impact in how we care for our patients and how we support caregivers,” Cheryl Cosgrove, a registered nurse with the Oregon Nurses Association, said in the same statement. “This toolkit is an important first step to improve patient care and reduce workplace violence throughout Oregon.”  

The toolkit is on the hospital association’s website. It is also available nationwide through the Joint Commission, one of the top accrediting bodies nationwide for hospitals. It called the toolkit a “recommended resource.”

"We have high hopes it will be everywhere," said Philip Schmidt, spokesman for the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, "and reduce violence in hospitals against workers."