Workplace Violence in the Healthcare Field

No healthcare setting is immune from the trend of workplace violence. In order to protect employees and to reduce the likelihood of an OSHA or regulatory violation, dental practices should be aware of workplace violence risks.

When visiting an office recently, the staff person met me in their parking lot. For convenience, she led me to the office and in through the side door – which was close to their conference and break rooms.

To my surprise, this side door, which opened to the parking lot, was not locked. She advised they normally, as a convenience for staff, do not lock the door during the day. 

This brought to mind the issue of workplace safety.

Violence in the workplace is happening more frequently than you may be aware. In fact, this topic is not usually publicized unless the violence includes a shooting. 

However, the fact is, workplace violence includes more than an event with a firearm or weapon, and it is a growing issue in the healthcare field. 

Workplace violence encompasses physical assaults, threats of harm, bullying, emotional, or sexual and verbal abuse arising from at least one of four directions:

  • Staff to staff
  • Patients to staff
  • Patient families and visitors to staff
  • Strangers to staff

Workplace violence and dental practices

While there are many examples of violence happening in physician practices or hospitals, no healthcare setting is immune from this trend.

Dental practices should be aware of the risks of workplace violence to not only protect their employees, but to also reduce the likelihood of an OSHA or regulatory violation.

A Dentistry IQ article, directed towards dental offices, gives insight as to what steps you can take in your office to prevent or reduce the likelihood of a violent situation occurring.

Keep in mind some other proactive tips, such as:

  • Create and adhere to a code of conduct which addresses workplace violence
    • Include an incident review process
    • Maintain records relative to events that may occur
  • Adopt a zero tolerance attitude
    • Train staff to recognize and report incidents
  • Provide staff training in de-escalation techniques
  • Review your security strategies annually (locked doors, panic alarms, etc.)
  • Provide victim support resources

By the way, the office with the unlocked door, that door is now locked – all the time.

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