Let’s face it, everyone wants to live, work, and be cared for in a safe environment. Safety is defined as the condition of being protected from an experience likely to cause danger, risk, or injury (Oxford Languages, 2022). Unfortunately, safety continues to be an issue in healthcare. Too often we hear about healthcare workers or patients being harmed; the causes are different but, the results are similar – someone is affected.
Healthcare Workplace Violence is Increasing
According to the lasted research, workplace violence is increasing, and healthcare workers are five times more likely to experience workplace violence than other professions (Ramzi, Fatah, & Davandi, 2022). Workplace violence is often related to unexpected acute illness, fear of unpredictability, or severe stress experienced by a patient or family member (Stene et al., 2015). The COVID surges and civic unrest have certainly increased all these factors for many people. Healthcare workers in high stress areas such as the emergency department and critical care are the most vulnerable due to the nature of the specialties. Healthcare worker violence is associated with decreased job satisfaction, decreased productivity, and lower quality of life, in addition to increased stress, burnout, and sleep disorders (Ramzi, Fatah, & Davandi, 2022). These are some of the same factors that contribute to patient safety issues.
Patient Safety Remains a Prominent Issue
Patient safety costs the world $42 billion annually with one out of every 10 patients worldwide experiencing an adverse event (Skelly, Cassagnol, & Munakomi, 2022). In the U.S. alone, 250,000 patients experience an adverse medical event annually and 50% of those events are preventable. The majority of patient safety issues are centered around surgical issues, medication, and healthcare associated infections (Skelly, Cassagnol, & Munakomi, 2022). Patient falls also continue to be problematic. These numbers aren’t surprising. We knew there was a problem prior to the pandemic; during the pandemic we were just trying to keep people alive.
It’s Time to Focus on Safety for All
Healthcare workers have the right to be safe at their jobs and patients have the right to be safe in healthcare environments. In January of 2022, the Joint Commission put in place the Workplace Violence Prevention Standards
(2022) to keep the workforce safe. That translates into a renewed investment in managing safety concerns, monitoring data, and educating and training the workforce on how to keep themselves safe, decrease risk, and respond if they are in jeopardy.
All healthcare institutions are evaluating quality care and patient safety scores and implementing programs to optimize patient care and safety. As part of this initiative, one cannot forget the importance of having an adequate number of competent staff in addition to ensuring emotional and psychological safety of healthcare workers, so they feel unencumbered to voice concerns over unsafe situations.
The bottom line is safety is everyone’s right. When people enter our healthcare domains as either workers or patients, they have a right to be safe, feel safe, and be treated safely. It’s time to focus on safety for all!
Ramzi, Z. S., Fatah, P. W., & Dalvandi, A. (2022). Prevalence of Workplace Violence Against Healthcare Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in psychology, 13, 896156. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.896156
Skelly, C. L., Cassagnol, M., & Munakomi, S. (2022). Adverse Events. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.
Stene, J., Larson, E., Levy, M., & Dohlman, M. (2015). Workplace violence in the emergency department: giving staff the tools and support to report. The Permanente journal, 19(2), e113–e117. https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/14-187