Across the nation, healthcare workers are seeing an increase in workplace violence, and are calling for training standards at the federal, state, and local levels. Administrators in healthcare facilities need to start providing workplace violence training now, before they find themselves on the losing side of a liability lawsuit.

According to United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), healthcare workers suffer 50 percent of all workplace assaults.

“Healthcare workers are the single most attacked profession out there,” says Richard H. Price Principal, Senior Analyst, CPTED CPD with Soteria Group, Safety by Design, who served 21 years as an FBI Special Agent.

“Based on the workplace violence that we’ve seen, almost every healthcare facility from the biggest hospital to the smallest dentist’s office is leaving their workers wide open to attack. These healthcare teams desperately need to be safer,” says Paul Feist, Principal, Senior Analyst and CPTED CPD, with the Soteria Group, who has 25 years of experience in law enforcement.

For years OSHA has been recommending a violence protection program for healthcare workers that examines everything from the employees and their worksite to administrative activities such as accurate recordkeeping to get a real handle on the true scope of the problem.

And the violence doesn’t come solely from patients and their associates. Some of the worst offenders are fellow healthcare workers. Recently the American Nurses Association announced a zero tolerance stance on workplace violence that said in part:

A recent ANA survey of 3,765 RNs found nearly one-quarter of respondents had been physically assaulted while at work by a patient or a patient’s family member, and up to half had been bullied in some manner, either by a peer (50 percent) or a person in a higher level of authority (42 percent).     

The position statement’s recommendations to prevent and mitigate violence, in addition to setting a “zero tolerance” policy, include:

  • Establishing a shared and sustained commitment by nurses and their employers to create a safe and trustworthy environment that promotes respect and dignity
  • Encouraging employees to report incidents of violence, and never blaming employees for violence perpetrated by non-employees
  • Encouraging RNs to participate in educational programs, learn organizational policies and procedures, and use “situational awareness” to anticipate the potential for violence
  • Developing a comprehensive violence prevention program aligned with federal health and safety guidelines, with RNs’ input

To prevent bullying, ANA recommends that employers:

  • Provide a mechanism for RNs to seek support when feeling threatened
  • Inform employees about available strategies for conflict resolution and respectful communication
  • Offer education sessions on incivility and bullying, including prevention strategies

But rather than waiting for national standards to emerge, some state healthcare groups are taking action now.

In Montana, the Montana Nurses Association wants to make assaulting health care workers a felony:

“Like firefighters and police officers who turn toward people in need, nurses run toward patients in need, regardless of the personal sacrifice. That’s the conviction of a nurse, but that does not mean that there should not be laws and measures taken to protect them,” MNA Executive Director Vicki Byrd said during the campaign announcement. “You can be imprisoned for a year for hitting a sports official or a police dog, but not a nurse,” she added.

In California, after Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would’ve increased penalties for workplace violence that occurred in emergency departments, the Emergency Nurses Association has called for increased workplace security and training.  

In Massachusetts, Boston nurses revealed rampant workplace violence at the state’s psychiatric hospital. Now the Massachusetts Nurses Association is pushing a state bill that would mandate plans to protect employees from workplace violence.

The Soteria Group is a national security consulting firm that can address the needs specific to workplace violence experienced by healthcare employees in your locale.

“We look at all entrances and exits to reconfigure flow and determine which require additional security controls and surveillance,” says Arthur R. Tatum, Director of Design for FBT Architects and Principal of Soteria’s Environmental Design Division. “We also train employees on how to deal with workplace violence and victims of domestic violence both in the co-worker and patient populations.”

Healthcare workers are in the business of saving lives. So are we.

In answer to these needs, the Soteria Group is offers a Free Snapshot Overview. The Snapshot Overview is our opportunity to find out what reports, plans, and other documents you already have in place.

We look for the controls and processes that function to mitigate vulnerabilities in your organization and identify those that may be missing. This data-dive provides us with a basis of understanding that will determine the steps and process to be taken for a future Vulnerability Assessment. Conducting a Snapshot Overview is the first step an organization should take when developing a Safety or Emergency Operational Plan, and periodically as a maintenance practice to keep the plans up to date with changes to your organization.

The Snapshot Overview:

  • Identifies existing risk management strategies and policies
  • Provides a roadmap to identify individual vulnerabilities
  • Develops a matrix of your options and assesses them against your priorities
  • Indicates the appropriate approach and plan for your facility
  • Identifies how your resources (physical and procedural) are allocated
  • Provides you a detailed time and expense estimate for a full Vulnerability Assessment

The findings from the Snapshot Overview will lay the groundwork to conduct a thorough, and comprehensive Vulnerability Assessment of your organization’s ability to navigate danger.

Structured like a bank stress test, in a seminar setting, Soteria will create an analysis of an various violence scenarios to determine whether your campus has the resources, training and infrastructure to deal with such an attack.

“Being prepared is the key to saving lives. With our experience we can guide your team through the worst cases and best practices.” says Tatum.

To get the safety conversation started, give the Soteria Group a call (505-369-7436) to arrange for one of our training sessions:

Active Shooter Response Training

Building An Emergency Operation Plan


Crisis Management Team (CMT) Formation and Function Training

Emergency Management Training

National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command Systems (ICS) Training

Target Hardening/CPTED

Call the Soteria Group (505-263-7059) to arrange a workplace risk and response training session for your team.

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