Identifying and Controlling Violent Health Care Patients and Employees Term Paper

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Controlling Violent Health Care Patients and Employees

This is a paper discussion on the identification and control of violence amongst health care patients and employees. It has 11 sources.

An Introduction to Violence

Violence has become a common feature of our society found in every area of the nation from quiet neighborhoods in the suburbs to the urbanized cities of the U.S. To make the matter worse, the media including radio, TV, private cable networks, have become a part of the culture that promotes the concepts of violence, if there is no violence exhibited in either every day programs then these programs, including those of children are presumed to be a failure. Hence, it would not be wrong to assume that our entire culture has been virtually gripped in a sphere of violence to which there is no end.

This culture of violence continues despite the fact that the sociologists get together to suggest that the controlled violence that is being used to target the audience is creating a virtual reality after which the violence depicted is featured in real life. The irony is that violence is also targeting the healthcare institutes which are institutes that are supposed to save lives not harm them. The following paper will discuss the concept of violence including its identification amongst health care patients and employees in particular. The paper will conclude with some of the suggestive measures for controlling violence in the healthcare institutes.

Beginning our discussion through the identification and control of violence amongst health care patients, the statistics presented by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration are perhaps the best evidence to the notion that healthcare and social service sectors are the singularly, as well as the largest areas of the nation's economy where incidents of assaults and violence are said to occur. Also provided are some of the initial reasons presented by the OSHA, which include amongst others the easy availability of handguns, the increasing growth of mentally ill patients, the falling levels of employment in the health care industry, and more than isolated working conditions whenever exams are conducted (Erickson 2000).

Statistics as of the year 1994 provided by the OSHA note that in the health care industry alone, some 26 physicians, 27 pharmacists, 18 registered nurses, and 17 nurse's aides died as a result of physical violence by the patients or their immediate family members. In addition similar surveys carried out over employees working in psychiatric institutions revealed that the number of assault and injury cases was much higher than the traditional hospital and clinical settings. For example those working in psychiatric settings, it was found that the prevalence rate of violence was 16 assaults per 100 workers, in contrast to the 8.3% as noted for other health care settings (Erickson 2000).

Some Principle Factors for the Patient's Violent Behavior

An overview of the patients attitudes studied in the particular setting of the office of the physician revealed that there are number of factors that cause the patients first getting impatient and later turning utterly violent. A combination of factors were reviewed in the ensuing violence in a physician's office that included a frustrated attitude on the part of the patients, the staff at the physician's offices, or family members of the patients accompanying the patient. For example with the number of patients increasing on the list of the respective patients, it is common to observe that patients tend to get impatient either when waiting too long for their turn, when they fail to get an appointment, and if they do get one, the tendency to break the queue and get into a dispute with the staff at first, followed by a complete resemblance of a market place brawl which could start from verbal assaults and eventually turn into use of physical violence, such as grabbing another individual, or even the pushing or throwing of the weaker individual by the stronger individual (Felton 1997).

Another set of reasons for the patients or their family members showing violence is that with an increasing number of patients and their families begin to think that they are not getting the right treatment from the physician and/or the treatments offered are not effective as to the expectations of both the later groups. A growth of such feeling tends to create a sense of escalating tension on the part of patients, and this becomes all the more serious when the patients do not recuperate. Such occurrences are more noticeable in conditions where the patients are suffering from psychological or mental health related ailments. The findings and surveys carried out by OHSA duly support these trends, as also evidenced in their statistics, already mentioned in the preceding paragraphs. (Felton 1997).

The increasing prevalence of violence in hospital settings as compared to clinics for outpatient or other health care facilities is also said to be attributed to such factors as larger hospital settings aside from providing treatment facilities for their patients to serving as temporary holding cells for 'potentially violent criminals' including drug dealers/users. Such a situation is likely to increase the prevalence of violence in the traditional hospital settings, as these facilities are ample grounds for obtaining, or even looting drugs stored for treatment purposes. (Felton 1997).

Stress as an Important Factor in Raising Levels of Violence in health care settings

In evaluating the reasons and factors for the rising levels of violence in health care patients and settings, it is also observed that aside from the patients and their families being responsible for the rising levels of violence, the role of the employees at the hospitals, clinics and other health care settings too plays an equally threatening role. Hospital employees intermediating between the physicians and the patients receive some of the worst forms of verbal and possible physical assaults, but for reasons of their own stress and inability to control, or take charge of an already heated patient-physician environment (Hegal & Ferguson 2000).

Perhaps one of the best explanations for such situations have been provided in the writings of McClure, who in her book titled "Risky Business: Employee Violence in the Workplace" duly notes that employees tend to ignore some of the most common behaviors including those of acting out in the event of a patient getting angry; failure to act and take complete responsibility for the irresponsible behavior towards patients, or their families; failure to make the right choice for adopting a passive or aggressive behaviors as per the requirement of the situation; failing to adopt a rigid and controlling posture when the situations so demands; working under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or even working while still in the stages of withdrawal symptoms.

In a related set of factors, stresses on the part of the employees at hospital settings and other health care facilities is also attributed to such factors as involving in the personal problems of the patients, or suffering from the more greater problems including shortages of equally trained staff. Then there is the tendency of exploiting the availability of drugs at these settings, that more than act as triggers for getting addicted, in turn resulting in the poor performance, getting agitated or charged up for smallest of reasons, or even getting involved in verbal duels with patients and their families. (Hegal & Ferguson 2000).

Thus, checking upon staff profiles before hiring them, training them in such aspects as handling anger and stress, as well as attentively listening to employee problems can serve to significantly reduce any future problems arising out of the employees' faults.

Comments by McClure in her on this particular condition best provide a truly understanding tone for employers and physicians alike as they hire personnel. Thus, McClure notes that "You should be aware of the potential risks when you hire staff, train them in dealing with anger and stress, and be open to hearing about employee problems," (McClure, "Risky Business: Employee Violence in the Workplace")

From the business perspective too, aspects such as planning and pursuing policies that best serve the organization can also help reduce potential dangers that may arise out of hiring employees with unknown backgrounds. More often then not, it is observed that physicians tend to hire employees or assistants, without checking the background, or history of the respective employee. It is only when the employee gets into some sort of real trouble with the patients that the physicians really come to notice as to the true nature, psychology, and background of the employees. Thus, instead of taking a purely medical approach, and limiting themselves to the patient-physician relationship, the same physicians could well check into the background history of the newly appointed employee. Factors such as prior references and working history of the potential employee can well serve to protect a future problem from getting worse simply because the respective employer failed to carry out a simple background check on his or her employee (qt. Hegal & Ferguson 2000).

Strategies to Make the Healthcare Environment/Workplace a Safer Place…[continue]

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