As healthcare professionals tirelessly care for the ill and vulnerable on the front lines, they too are exposed to a variety of risks.
In the dynamic field of healthcare, the safety and well-being of employees are indispensable pillars. As healthcare professionals tirelessly care for the ill and vulnerable on the front lines, they too are exposed to a variety of risks. The challenges are multifaceted, ranging from physical injuries caused by improper equipment management to the emotional toll of patient care, not to mention the increased risk of infectious diseases.
In a recent blog
by Axis Communications, Paul Baratta, the Business Development Manager for healthcare at the company, listed some of the major concerns that healthcare facilities have to face.
This article examines the significance of staff safety in the healthcare industry, highlighting the potential dangers they face and emphasizing the necessity of implementing stringent safety protocols. As the backbone of the medical community, securing the safety of healthcare staff is not only an organizational but also a societal responsibility. A safe healthcare worker is essential to a healthier society.
The healthcare sector, while primarily focused on patient care, is also grappling with an alarming rise in workplace aggression. As hospitals become bustling epicenters of care, the safety of the staff often comes under threat from various forms of violence and aggressive behavior.
“Violence prevention training is an effective way to ensure hospital staff has the skills to handle aggressive behavior,” Baratta said. “For example, when staff is trained to mitigate situations, they can better recognize the warning signs of violent conduct. In turn, they have a better chance of preventing violent situations or minimizing damage before it escalates by staying calm and communicating with their colleagues.”
Regrettably, de-escalation techniques aren't always effective. The Joint Commission has since mandated specific standards for reporting critical incidents and curbing workplace violence. A strategy adopted by many hospitals, involving both security and medical personnel, is the deployment of body-worn devices. These wearable technologies not only document events and scenarios but have also demonstrated a decrease in the severity of reported aggressive and violent incidents.
Concerns of reduced personnel
A shortage of staff is a major concern for the healthcare sector. The U.S. is not the only country to suffer from a staffing shortage of healthcare workers. The World Health Organization predicts a shortfall of 15 million healthcare workers worldwide by 2030. The International Centre on Nurse Migration projects there will be a shortage of 13 million nurses alone by 2030, up from a shortage of 6 million before the pandemic.
“When hospitals are short-staffed, they may not have time to consistently check on patients; it might only be possible for nurses to visit them to provide medication or food,” Baratta explained. “Because of this, patients might feel neglected and aggressively act out for attention. Security technology can assist hospitals with staffing shortages by helping improve how efficiently employees work. For example, surveillance systems with sound detection alert staff when it detects aggressive behavior.”
Long waits for medical services
Baratta points out that patients and their families can become frustrated and agitated when they wait for medical services or treatment. The longer the wait time, the more likely a patient will exhibit disruptive behavior. The emergency department is a prime example of this.
“Emergency department workers and healthcare administrators have high exposure to verbal and physical aggression,” Baratta said. “In an interview between AJMC and Leigh Vinocur MD, national spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians, she describes how “you can’t go through a shift without being sworn at or spit on. If you consider verbal abuse, it’s probably daily. Eighty percent of emergency room doctors have at some point been involved in workplace violence.”
To effectively reduce such violence, it's crucial to shorten wait times. Utilizing people-counting analytics can help achieve this by monitoring the number of individuals in a lobby and sending notifications when additional staff is required. By integrating HIPAA-compliant sound detection with surveillance cameras, staff can take preemptive measures. This sound detection feature identifies aggressive tones in voices, alerting the staff before a situation intensifies.
The healthcare sector, revered for its dedication to patient care, is fraught with challenges that jeopardize the safety of its professionals. From the emotional and physical strains of the job to the rising incidents of workplace aggression, healthcare workers are constantly at risk.
The insights provided by Paul Baratta from Axis Communications shed light on the pressing issues, such as the global shortage of healthcare workers and the repercussions of prolonged wait times for medical services. These challenges not only affect the morale and safety of the staff but also impact patient care.
As the industry grapples with these concerns, the integration of advanced technologies like body-worn devices and sound detection surveillance systems offers a beacon of hope. These tools not only document and deter aggressive incidents but also optimize staff efficiency, ensuring a safer and more efficient healthcare environment. As we move forward, it is imperative for healthcare institutions and society at large to prioritize the safety of these frontline warriors, recognizing their pivotal role in fostering a healthier community.