SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -Healthcare leaders are reporting increased assaults on employees and stating that violence will not be tolerated. Hospitals are implementing policies to try to prevent an attack from happening.
CoxHealth recently posted signs on campus stating that violence would not be tolerated and violators could be prosecuted. The signs define violence as physical assault, verbal harassment or abusive language, sexual language, threats, and failure to respond to instruction. CoxHealth refused multiple interview requests on the topic but released a statement saying,
“In several of our facilities, we have signs explaining that violence against staff will not be tolerated. While the vast majority of our patients and visitors are kind and considerate, we have, unfortunately, seen a higher number of incidents in which patients have been aggressive with our staff members.”
Mercy Vice-President of Operations Kim Tilley says they have seen an increase in employee attacks on campus. Health care workers are trained to prevent an incident, but leaders hope that setting expectations will help prevent patients and visitors from becoming aggressive.
“We have expectations for our patients as well,” said Tilley. “Dignity is core to what we do at Mercy. So we ask each and every patient and family member visitor that we encounter to have that same respect and dignity for our care team so that they can provide the care that patient needs.”
CoxHealth and Mercy employees are trained in de-escalation techniques to prevent an incident, but that doesn’t always work. While healthcare workers understand that patients and visitors may be having a stressful time, violence is unacceptable. Cox and Mercy support employees after an assault.
“Our first focus is on the safety and well-being of that co-worker that has been assaulted,” said Tilley. “We have resources available, including an employee assistance program. We do offer all of those resources at the time that that happens. We have followed up with the co-worker, and we encourage and offer the opportunity to depress charges. Because just as a crime in the healthcare setting and assault in the healthcare setting is a crime as well.”
According to the CoxHealth statement, employees are offered similar support.
“When our staff is assaulted, they are encouraged to file charges. We have a crisis care team, which is made up of nurses, physicians, psychologists, chaplains, and social workers, on staff to debrief situations and work through the emotional trauma of assault.”
Assaulting a healthcare worker is a Class C misdemeanor, and violators could end up jailing a year.
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