New Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert - Physical and Verbal Violence Against Health Care Workers

PUBLISHED: Apr 17, 2018
Relevant to: All Healthcare Organizations

The Joint Commission (TJC) has issued a new Sentinel Event Alert #59 addressing physical and verbal violence against health care workers. According to TJC, workplace violence is not simply the well-published incidents, it is also the insidious everyday incidents such as verbal abuse. With this new Sentinel Event Alert, TJC is focusing on physical and verbal violence, with the specific goal of assisting organizations to:

  • Recognize and acknowledge workplace violence directed against health care workers from patients and visitors
  • Prepare staff to handle violence
  • Effectively address the aftermath

This Sentinel Event Alert reviews the prevalence of workplace violence as well as contributing factors. TJC suggests actions that healthcare organizations can take to address this serious safety issue, including but not limited to:

  • Clearly define workplace violence for the organization and implement systems that let employees report instances of workplace violence, including verbal abuse.
  • Collect data on workplace violence (including verbal abuse and attempted assaults when no harm has occurred) from multiple sources.
  • Provide follow-up and support to victims, witnesses and others affected by workplace violence, including psychological counseling and trauma-informed care if necessary.
  • Conduct a review of each instance of workplace violence to determine contributing factors and identify possible interventions for response and prevention.
  • Implement quality improvement initiatives to reduce incidents of workplace violence.
  • Conduct training for all staff, including security, that includes strategies in de-escalation, self-defense and response to emergency codes.

Sentinel Event #58 also includes numerous links to resources and a summary of TJC standards that address workplace violence, broken down by accreditation program. Today’s notice includes several examples polices related to workplace violence.

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