In addition to long, grueling shifts, hospital doctors, nurses, and staff members face a wide variety of safety and security risks. In fact, nearly 75 percent of all workplace assaults in the U.S. occur in health care. Additionally, nurses are more likely to be assaulted at work than police officers and are nearly five times more likely to be injured on the job and miss work than other professions. Here, we provide an overview of the threat landscape in health care and the ways that community-sourced risk reporting can help.
Risks Facing Health Care Workers
Health care workers face risks ranging from abuse and battery by patients to the presence of weapons, active assailants, supply and property thefts, robberies, and violent crimes targeting remote workers. Additionally, many hospitals are located in high crime areas, so the simple act of walking to and from your car in the parking lot can be risky, especially late at night.
The American Hospital Association estimates that violence response efforts cost hospitals and health systems in the US nearly $3 billion a year, including $234 million a year in staff turnover, $42 million a year in medical and indemnity for lost wages, and $91 million in disability and absenteeism costs. These incidents can also have less quantifiable costs, such as damaged reputation.
Community Prevention Current State
Despite the wealth of threats facing health care workers, organizational engagement in safety and security prevention remains a major challenge for many facilities, according to Brian Warren, a former President of the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety.
“It’s amazing how many hospitals I’ve assessed and when I asked the staff if they have panic buttons many either answer, ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I think we do, but I don’t know where they are’,” Warren said. “That’s really not taking responsibility for your own security. I think that’s something we need to impress on everyone who works in the health care environment. Security really is everyone’s responsibility.”
Case Study: Pediatric Hospital
To address these risks, one Vector Solutions health care client deployed the LiveSafe platform to improve risk reporting and prevent incidents. This private, not-for-profit organization is one of the ten largest pediatric health care providers in the United States and operates three hospitals.
Despite the security department’s frequent interaction with employees, many health care workers were hesitant to contact security when they saw something unusual. Instead, employees would often mention seeing a suspicious person or issue after the fact.
“We wouldn’t know about it until we ran into somebody a week later at a meeting or in a hallway or getting lunch in the cafeteria. Then they let us know about it,” the Director of Security said. “They would say to themselves, ‘Oh, I don’t think I need to call 9-1-1. I don’t want to bother security. I know they’re busy.”
The security team realized that the LiveSafe platform could complement many of their existing reporting tools, which often face obstacles to adoption.
“We already had an email [address], you could email. We already had a phone number they could call. But we know there are roadblocks to using those,” the Director of Security said.
LiveSafe’s simple interface encourages employees to report potential threats sooner – even when they are uncertain if something is amiss. “Now we’re getting reports immediately instead of hearing about it a week later,” the security official said.
LiveSafe has expanded the security team’s visibility into threats that may have otherwise gone unreported. This allows them to determine the appropriate next steps without surprises or delays due to lack of information. Immediately identifying risks and threat patterns facilitates this health care organization’s efforts to mitigate risks, prevent incidents, and protect their employees.
How LiveSafe Can Help Health Care Organizations
The LiveSafe Platform is the industry-leading risk management tool for mobile risk reporting. It empowers employees to take safety into their own hands and protect themselves, their coworkers, and their organizations. Notable LiveSafe features include:
- Tip Submission: Employees can report workplace hazards or suspicious behavior, anonymously if desired. These tips are automatically routed to the correct response team and can be discussed with the submitter in real time.
- Broadcast Messaging: Organizations can send alerts or reminders to employees regarding new or updated policies or safety threats.
- SafeWalk: Health care employees can have a virtual companion accompany them while they commute to or from work or walk through the parking lot to their car. SafeWalk can also be used while driving, which can help employees commute safely.
- Resources: Health care organizations can upload relevant policies and procedures that employees can easily access in times of need, with or without internet connection.
To learn more about the threats facing healthcare workers and how risk intelligence can help, download our free guide, Protecting Health Care Workers with Risk Intelligence. Visit the LiveSafe website to learn more about implementing LiveSafe into your health care organization’s prevention strategy.