Illinois hospital workers face much higher risks of being injured in workplace violence than do other workers, making prevention an important task. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that hospital workers were four times likelier to be injured in violent incidents at their jobs than were other workers between 2002 and 2013. During that time period, hospital workers had a violence-related injury rate of 7.8 injuries per 100,000 workers. By contrast, workers in the construction industry had a violence-related injury rate of fewer than 2 injuries per 100,000 workers. When workers are injured in incidents of workplace violence, a workers’ comp lawyer may help them to recover benefits from their employers’ workers’ compensation insurance coverage.
Factors That Contribute to Violence
There are multiple factors that contribute to the increased risk of violent incidents in hospitals. Hospital workers often must provide care to people who have histories of violence or who are under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Some hospitals are located in neighborhoods with high crime rates and the staff may be providing care to gang members. There is also a problem with visitors coming into the hospital with weapons. Since some hospital workers work alone, they may be easy targets for criminals. Many hospitals have poorly-lit hallways and inadequate security staff on duty. Overcrowded waiting areas and long wait times in emergency departments may lead to frustration, which can turn into violent outbursts by patients.
Prevention of Hospital Violence
Hospital administrators can take steps to reduce the risk of violent incidents. They should encourage staff to report all of the incidents that happen. Some assaults do not get reported, making it more difficult for the hospitals to identify factors that contributed to them. Hospital corridors should be brightly lit, and there should be sufficient security personnel on duty at all times. Installing metal detectors at all entryways should be considered in order to prevent people from coming into the hospital with firearms. Hospitals should have regular training programs in place for their staff so that they understand what to do when they are confronted by an aggressive patient or visitor. Strong policies and procedures should also be in place so that the staff knows what to do in such incidents.
With preventative measures, violent incidents may be reduced so that workers remain safe. Injured workers may recover workers’ compensation benefits including medical expenses and lump sum payments for their injuries.