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Hospitals Fighting Violence on All Fronts, National Program Provides Support

November 04, 2016

Violence is considered a major public health and safety issue throughout the country. Hospitals and health systems are working to help address violence in communities and within hospital settings.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, there are more than 55,000 deaths and 2.5 million violence-related injuries in the United States. Exposure to violence increases the likelihood of an individual being a perpetrator of violence or experiencing repeated violent injury in the future.

The American Hospital Association’s Hospitals Against Violence initiative is a web-based resource created to help hospitals and health systems address and reduce the incidence of violence. The information covers national, state, and local efforts to help end violence in communities. In addition, there are tools to help hospital employees cope with the impact of violence, at home, on the job, or in their neighborhoods.

During June 2016, the Health Facilities Management and the American Society for Healthcare Engineering conducted the Hospital Security Survey. Seventy-five percent of respondents said that maintaining security has become more challenging over the past two years. There has been an increase in attacks and assaults reported. These incidents include more patient/family violence against staff; more violent behavioral health patients; and increased violence due to the opioid epidemic.

Hospitals are taking steps to better prepare for and deal with violence within their walls, by:

  • Conducting a physical facilities security assessment at least annually
  • Developing workplace violence policies and active-shooter policies
  • Using a combination of in-house and outside security firms to conduct security/risk assessments
  • Using systems like access control and digital video surveillance
  • Investing in visitor management systems, electronic lockdown from a central location, and radio-frequency identification for tracking equipment, supplies, and medication

Evidence shows that these and other hospital-based violence intervention programs reduce violence, save lives, and decrease health care costs.

Hospitals also are well-positioned to collaborate with community partners to prevent violence. Hospital mission statements focus on improving the health of individuals and communities. Hospital community health needs assessments have identified violence prevention as a priority. Health care providers often can meet the specific needs of victims of violence when they are in the hospital and after discharge.

Many of Pennsylvania’s hospitals and health systems, including The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Western Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, and Temple University Hospital, are partnering with their communities to deal with violence. They are making an impact through education, patient resources, and counseling services; as well as through initiatives promoting health and wellness, safe housing, and school-based programs.

For more information about how hospitals are helping to prevent violence, please contact Julie Kissinger, HAP's Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs.

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