Workplace violence is a major safety issue in hospitals and health systems across South Carolina. Studies show that healthcare workers are significantly more likely to be the victims of violence and abuse than workers in other industries, and SCHA is committed to making hospitals a safer place to work, visit and receive care.
In a healthcare environment where high reliability is paramount, both physical and verbal abuse are significant contributors to workplace stress and psychological trauma that can negatively impact employee health and quality of life. Potential sources of violence in healthcare facilities vary widely and can include patients, visitors, intruders and even coworkers. Research also indicates that workplace violence in healthcare is vastly underreported because many employees believe that it’s part of the job, which is simply not the case.
SCHA firmly believes that real culture change is needed on this issue. We’re currently advocating for legislation that provides special protections for healthcare caregivers and first responders by providing enhanced penalties for those who commit acts of violence against them. An independent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that South Carolina is one of only three states without enhanced penalties for violence against healthcare workers.
We also support hospitals in encouraging a culture of identifying and reporting incidents of violence as part of an overall commitment to safety in their organizations. This could include everything from creating formal processes for reporting violence to providing information and resources dedicated to the safety and health of your workforce.
In an effort to educate healthcare providers and the public on the impact of healthcare workplace violence, we are excited to launch the “Hospital Safe Zones” campaign. As we look to other industries to achieve high reliability in our clinical practices, we can also learn from industries that have reduced harm by developing a culture of safety. From “work zones” to “school zones,” we know that these efforts can succeed in bringing increased attention to one’s surroundings to enhance behavioral awareness. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are institutions of wellness that are held to a higher standard of health and safety for employees, patients, and visitors. Caregivers make a vow to do no harm, and we should make that same vow to them. Help us make Hospital Safe Zones in South Carolina.