Alaska’s hospitals have seen a significant increase in workplace violence in the last year, generally patient on caregiver or family member on caregiver violence. ASHNHA is working to identify the best method of collecting data to quantify this uptick in violence. Anecdotally, we know that violence has escalated dramatically. ASHNHA has formed a Workplace Violence Task Force to help define the problem and develop solutions.
The Workplace Violence Task Force continues to meet weekly on Monday’s at 1 p.m. Progress is being made in regard to data collection and creating a narrative to explain the magnitude of the impacts that violence is having on Alaska’s hospitals. The task force is continuing to explore what types of education, processes, and policies will assist hospitals in navigating how to prevent violence and what to do when violence has occurred. SB 54 has been signed in to law and is anticipated to alleviate some of the inconsistencies in the criminal justice system that were likely contributing to escalated workplace violence issues. The Legislature is also examining other aspects of reform, such as recidivism reduction efforts, to assess how those efforts are impacting Alaskans. The Alaska Criminal Justice Commission released their 2017 Annual Report (see Resources below) in regard to Alaska’s criminal justice system reform efforts.
On Dec. 7 ASHNHA presented to the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission in regard to workplace violence issues in Alaska’s hospitals. The Commission is tasked with evaluating and recommending criminal justice system changes to improve criminal laws and practices. ASHNHA presented our Workplace Violence Initiative which includes recommended legislative strategies and hospital strategies on evidence-based practices in pursuit of implementing a multifaceted approach to combating workplace violence. The testimony was moving and made great strides in advancing our efforts.
We are also working to address the issue by offering a toolkit on best practice to prevent workplace violence, providing hospitals with individualized assessments to help improve workplace safety and sharing best practices. The goal is for all facilities to implement best practices to reduce aggressive behavior and risk to hospital staff. There isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ policy that can be implemented but there are many existing policies that can be used as a roadmap for Alaska’s hospitals. Zero-tolerance policies have shown to have an impact on de-escalating violence and can be as simple as a mission-statement with posted signage that violence will not be tolerated. Each facility will want to craft a policy that addresses its unique qualities or to examine existing policies to ensure they adequately address workplace violence issues. At the same time, we will focus on problems in the criminal justice/law enforcement systems that are contributing to the increase in workplace violence.
Any ASHNHA member who would like to participate is welcome to join. If you would like to be part of the task force contact Michelle Utley.
Memorandum of Understanding Examples
A very powerful video created by a Physician on this critical topic