A tolerance of violence must end


In order to reduce cases of abuse against hospital staff there needs to be an end to the culture of tolerance that exists in many hospitals.  That is the view of Dean Sobcoviak, chair of the ASIS healthcare council.

In an exclusive interview, published this month in Healthcare Risk Management Review, he argues that hospitals need to bring in a zero tolerance policy against abuse.

 “Patient generated violence continues to rise - I believe that to be one of the biggest challenges that we have today,” he said.

“I think many healthcare workers who work specifically in the emergency department setting historically have felt that it is simply just a part of the job – that because they work in such a dynamic environment with many people that are obviously physically injured but also sometimes mentally ill that it’s just something they have to accept. Also there’s historically been a lack of support from the hospital but also from the legislation; staff have not been supported when reporting acts of violence against them, and we’re talking a wide range of violence too, from intimidation and verbal abuse all the way through to physical assault.”

He says that in order for the situation to improve there needs to be better education and better commitment from administration and legislators and that there have to be effective programs in place that will make staff feel empowered to not only protect others around them but also to protect themselves.

In order to truly create change, he believes the culture of tolerance of violence against staff has to end: risk managers need to embrace that challenge and embrace the fact that there is a problem.

“They need to take a stance that it is not OK to be verbally or physically abused by anyone,” he says. “It’s very important that we have training programs focussed around that because we know in many cases we react to situations based on our past training and experience. There needs to be a zero tolerance policy from the organization, and a commitment to a very specific program and training. I think those are key, along with encouraging the actual reporting so we’re comfortable that we’re getting really accurate information.”



ASIS healthcare council, violence, Healthcare Risk Management Review, abuse