Workplace Violence Prevention Training for Hospitals

Photo: Catherine Yeulet / iStock / Thinkstock
If you work in a hospital, a residential care facility, or a nursing home, you’ve probably seen your share of workplace violence. An article in the Missoulian reports that of the two million American workers who experience workplace violence each year, nurses, aides, orderlies, and attendants are assaulted the most.

Hospitals and other health care facilities can be places of great joy and excitement—or places of anxiety, grief, and frustration. When angry or upset, patients, their friends and family members, and even your coworkers can lose control of their rationality and verbally or physically lash out.

Violence prevention training is an effective means of ensuring that you have the skills to handle disruptive behaviour and assaults. When you’re trained in de-escalation strategies, you have the skills to recognize the warning signs of escalating behavior and to prevent situations from spinning out of control. Workplace violence prevention training also gives you:
  • Strategies to manage your own behavior so you don’t cause a person to become even more upset.
  • Skills for blocking and moving away from strikes and grabs so you can stay safe.

While it’s easy to believe that dealing with violent behavior is part of your job, it doesn’t have to be. The Joint Commission, OSHA, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services all address the issue of workplace violence prevention.

Additionally, CPI offers workplace violence prevention training to help you prevent and reduce assaults. The skills and strategies taught in the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training program can help you reduce injuries, meet the standards of regulating bodies, minimize exposure to liability, and enhance Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM for everyone in your facility—yourself, your coworkers, your patients, and visitors alike.

Workplace Violence Prevention Tips
Here are a few tips from our Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training program. To learn more about how CPI training can help you prevent workplace violence in your facility, check out more about the program.

Respect Personal Space.
Most of us consider the area around our bodies to be an extension of ourselves. While how much space each of us needs varies by individual preference, it’s almost universally true that everyone’s anxiety rises when their personal space is invaded. If you must touch a person in order to provide care:
  • Talk to the person and explain what you’re about to do.
  • Gain their trust.
  • Make sure they understand your intention.

Avoid Overreacting.
It's hard not to take things personally, especially since angry people often say very personal things. But it’s essential to do your best to remain calm and professional—at least on the outside. A rational response can go a long way toward influencing a person's behavior in a positive way.

Watch How You Say What You Say.
Two identical statements can have opposite meanings—depending on the tone, volume, and cadence of your voice. Make sure your vocal inflection is consistent with the words you use.

Ignore Challenging Questions.
When a person challenges your authority or an organizational policy, redirect their attention to the issue at hand. For example, suppose a visitor in a waiting area insists on entering the ER. You ask her to wait in the waiting area. She says, "Why should I listen to you? Who are you to tell me what to do?"

Answering this type of challenging question will only lead to a power struggle. It's better to ignore the challenge—but not the person—and restate your request so you can focus on the issue at hand.

Try setting clear, reasonable, and enforceable limits. For example, you might say, "Please come back to the waiting area with me, and I'll be sure the doctor speaks with you about your mom as soon as possible. If you try to enter the treatment room again, I'll have to call security, and then it will be even longer before you can talk to the doctor."

Get more workplace violence prevention tips in “Hospital Safety: 4 Tips for De-Escalating Behaviors.”

Workplace Violence Prevention Training Resources
Click the links to find out how the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training program aligns with the following standards and recommendations.
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About the Author

“Every individual on this earth deserves to be treated with compassion, understanding, and the right to keep their dignity intact. This can be difficult to honor at times when someone loses control of their behavior, but that’s where Rational Detachment and not taking it personally really kicks in. What has helped me be able to do this well goes back to the first day I was introduced to Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training. I was a participant before becoming a Certified Instructor (and before working for CPI), and over the years I have had so many opportunities to use what I learned way back then. Today, I live the skills automatically. It’s an honor to have been given those skills to live the philosophy of treating others the way I want to be treated.”