Preventing Violence: More Action Items


By Elizabeth Hogue, Esq.

According to a recent analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data, healthcare is one of the most dangerous places to work. Homecare field staff members who provide services on behalf of private duty agencies, hospices, Medicare-certified home health agencies, and home medical equipment (HME) companies may be especially vulnerable. Contributing to their vulnerability is the fact that they work alone on territory that may be unfamiliar and over which they have little control. Staff members certainly need as much protection as possible.  

First, regardless of practice setting, management should develop a written policy of zero tolerance for all incidents of violence, regardless of source. The policy should include animals. The policy must require employees and contractors to report and document all incidents of threatened or actual violence, no matter how minor. Emphasis should be placed on both reporting and documenting. Employees must provide as much detail as possible. The policy should also include zero tolerance for visible weapons. Caregivers must be required to report the presence of visible weapons. 

Below are some additional important actions for healthcare organizations to take that are based on UCHealth’s SAFE Program: 

  • Encourage staff members to STOP if they feel unsafe for any reason.  

  • Workers should pause to generally ASSESS their environments. Staff members should think about what has happened and observe what is currently occurring. Is there, for example, mounting frustration or anger? 

  • Staff should then FAMILIARIZE themselves with the room. Who is the patient? Where is the patient? Are there any factors that might escalate behaviors? Staff members should also consider putting themselves in positions where they have a route to escape, if necessary. 

  • Practitioners should also ENLIST help. Getting help may, for example, include pushing panic buttons on mobile devices. 


Here is what Chris Powell, Chief of Security at UCHealth said in Becker’s Hospital Review on June 4, 2024:  

“You can’t just talk about the shrimp and give you a good picture. We have to talk about the roux and the rice and everything else that goes into this for a good picture to be painted so people have an understanding. We want to solve this with an electronic learning or a 15-minute huddle, but we can’t. This is continuous and a persistent pursuit toward educating, communicating, recognizing, responding to, reporting and recovering from workplace violence.”  

Every caregiver matters. The healthcare industry has lost caregivers to violence on the job in the past. Let’s not repeat these terrible events. 


©2024 Elizabeth E. Hogue, Esq. All rights reserved. 

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