Reducing Hospital Workplace Violence

 In Nurses Weekly

Workplace violence isn’t part of the nursing job description, but according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, healthcare workers are four times more likely to experience violence than other workers in the private sector. A 2017 systematic review and meta-analysis found that 45% of emergency department (ED) violent events were related to drug or alcohol use. The Joint Commission and the American Nurses Association have issued calls to action to develop and implement strategies to protect hospital nurses and other employees from workplace violence. In addition, solutions that focus on treating and managing substance use disorder are needed.

The BEAM intervention has significantly improved patient management and reduced unnecessary patient transfers to higher levels of care. The program also has improved workplace safety outcomes for clinical nurses, which supports an overall safety strategy for the hospital. The RN workplace injury rate per 1,000 patient days has decreased, as has the Code Grey rate. Increased referrals to the hospital inpatient chemical dependency program for substance use disorders have helped provide more patients with seamless and comprehensive treatment.

A pre- and post-intervention staff nurse survey of perceived comfort in caring for patients with behavioral and substance use disorders showed significant improvement after BEAM team program implementation. Many nurses (48.25%) reported higher levels of comfort in caring for these patients in just 3 months after implementation, compared to a baseline of 13.5%. Before program implementation, surveyed nurses reported that only 34% of patient’s substance use withdrawal symptoms were addressed during a Code Grey. After implementation, that percentage rose to 67%.

Addressing workplace violence related to patients with substance use disorder or withdrawal requires expertise and dynamic solutions. The BEAM team provides an effective strategy for decreasing violence and consistently improving care for these patients. Other organizations can use similar programs to light the way to a safer workplace.

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