Addressing Workplace Violence Prevention: How RTLS Technology Can Help Hospitals Alleviate Staff Duress

Healthcare professionals face more workplace violence than employees in almost any other occupation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. COVID-19 supercharged these already sky-high rates, and the trend has shown no sign of slowing. In March 2022, nearly half of hospital nurses surveyed by National Nurses United reported witnessing or experiencing workplace violence—a nearly 100 percent increase over the previous year.

Workplace violence affects the capacity of the healthcare system and the welfare of the people it serves. Eighty-five percent of physicians surveyed by the American College of Emergency Physicians in 2022 said they suffered “loss of productivity, increased anxiety, and emotional trauma due to violence.” When physicians suffer these symptoms, the Joint Commission notes, it often prevents them from delivering efficient and effective patient care.

Guidelines and Regulations for Workplace Violence Prevention

In 2016, OSHA published a comprehensive set of workplace violence prevention guidelines for hospitals and health care facilities. The document strongly recommends that all hospitals and healthcare facilities create and maintain a system-wide workplace violence prevention plan in place that includes:

  • panic buttons, workstation paging systems, or personal alarm devices worn by staff
  • employee consultation on and involvement in the workplace violence prevention plan
  • safe worksite analysis
  • hazard prevention and control
  • recordkeeping of all workplace violence incidents, and
  • program evaluation

In 2022, The Joint Commission issued workplace violence prevention standards that reflect many of the elements in OSHA’s guidance. To remain accredited with the Joint Commission, hospitals and healthcare facilities must:

  • establish processes for monitoring, reporting, and investigating all safety and security incidents (including workplace violence) in and around the facility
  • deliver ongoing safety and security education and training for staff
  • conduct an annual analysis of their workplace violence prevention program and take action to address any deficiencies found in the analysis

Several states—California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington—have passed laws requiring workplace violence prevention programs for healthcare organizations. Hospitals and other facilities are held accountable to Joint Commission and state standards through facility inspections and audits. They may face penalties, such as fines or a loss of accreditation, if they fall short.

Assessing Options for Workplace Violence Prevention Technology

Healthcare technology companies offer solutions to help hospitals provide an easily accessible layer of protection for their workers if they encounter workplace violence incidents. The basic design of these solutions centers on a button that, when pushed during an emergency, sends a message to designated hospital staff responsible for incident response.

Many of these workplace violence prevention technologies, however, are incomplete. They offer:

  • limited coverage, and only to critical areas
  • wall-mounted buttons that can’t be pushed discreetly, which can lead to incident escalation
  • poorly designed badges that can allow germs to fester
  • unreliable power sources that may fail in an emergency or become unplugged accidentally
  • no real-time location capability
  • an expensive price tag for installation and maintenance

In addition, systems that require heavy infrastructure take a long time to install. Hospitals may not know for sure whether the solution they’ve purchased meets their workplace violence prevention needs for many months after the contract is signed and dollars are spent. These solutions are expensive, and many vendors require hospitals to sign three- to five-year contracts. If it turns out that the selected solution does not deliver what the facility needs, the hospital is stuck paying for an ineffective system for a long time—and its workplace safety needs are not being met.

How Cognosos Helps Alleviate Staff Duress Caused by Workplace Violence

The Cognosos staff duress solution delivers software, hardware, and room-level-accurate RTLS capability. Designed with hospital workers and other staff members in mind, the Cognosos offers:

  • a discreet, badge-mounted duress buttons: Staff can call for help without escalating an incident
  • campus-wide coverage: The solution protects staff in the facility and in parking lots, garages, and pathways leading to and from buildings
  • the same power source as the organization’s critical infrastructure: Cognosos won’t go down unless the entire facility does.
  • custom design for healthcare: Cognosos’ badges are easy to clean to prevent cross-contamination, and unobtrusive, lightweight infrastructure doesn’t interfere with hospitals’ operation.
  • room-level accuracy with high confidence: Cognosos’ proprietary LocationAI technology allows responders to know exactly where a workplace violence incident is happening, even if the assailant is moving around the facility.
  • software that facilitates compliance: Cognosos collects data from each workplace violence incident, allowing hospitals to produce reports that meet Joint Commission and other reporting standards.

Affordable Staff Duress Prevention with Minimal Workflow Interruption

The Cognosos staff duress solution runs on ultra-lightweight infrastructure that can be installed with minimal interruption to clinical workflows and systems. It’s up and running quickly—so hospitals know soon after signing the contract how well Cognosos is protecting their staff.

To learn more about how Cognosos’ staff duress solution offers your hospital an affordable, quick-to-install way to meet workplace violence prevention standards and improve staff safety, please contact us today.

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