MHA Developing Healthcare Safety & Violence Prevention Programs

Massachusetts hospitals continue to be committed to the protection, health, and wellbeing of our healthcare workforce and patient populations. This includes developing policies and procedures to prevent threatening or intimidating conduct and
actual physical violence within hospitals and healthcare settings.

In response to concerns regarding increased risk of violence in healthcare settings, the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association (MHA) formed a Workplace Safety and Violence Prevention Workgroup composed of a diverse group of hospital staff including, but not limited to, healthcare security professionals, nursing leadership, and legal counsel. The workgroup developed the following guidance to provide an understanding of the current best practices being used across Massachusetts hospitals with the goal of providing a framework for an effective healthcare violence prevention program. Such a program includes adopting a formal method for staff to report incidents of violence and for hospital management to review and analyze incidents, data, and trends to consider appropriate prevention efforts within and throughout the hospital’s properties. Finally, this guidance supports hospital adoption of internal security alert systems within the electronic medical record that will inform clinical staff and security about a patient’s previous history and potential risk for violent behavior to assist with proactive in the moment prevention efforts prior to and during an encounter with said patient.

The workgroup developed the following definition of “healthcare violence” to ensure standardization of how incidents are reported across Massachusetts healthcare settings. This definition of healthcare violence includes actions by patients, other employees, and outside visitors (interpersonal and non-interpersonal) and has been modified from the language used by the CDC National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the US Department of Labor.

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