Workplace Violence

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The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines workplace violence as any physical assault, threatening behavior or verbal abuse occurring in the workplace. Violence includes overt and covert behaviors ranging in aggressiveness from verbal harassment to murder. (NIOSH 1996).

Although, there is no federal standard that requires workplace violence protections, some states have sought legislative solutions including mandatory establishment of a comprehensive prevention program for healthcare employers, as well as increased penalties for those convicted of assaults of a nurse and / or other health care personnel.

  • Requires employer run workplace violence programs, study of the issue or a reporting of incidents: CA, CT, IL, NJ, NY, OR, and WA. ME (study only)
  • Establish or increase penalties for assault of nurses: AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, HI, ID, IL, NE, NV, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH*, OK, TN, VT, VA, and WV.
    *also authorizes hospitals to post warnings regarding violent behaviors
  • HI passed a resolution urging employers to develop and implement standards of conduct and policies for managers and employees to reduce workplace bullying and promote healthful and safe work environments.

Effective January 1, 2009 The Joint Commission added a standard in the "Leadership" chapter (LD.03.01.01)* that addresses disruptive and inappropriate behaviors in two of its elements of performance:

  • EP 4: The hospital/organization has a code of conduct that defines acceptable and disruptive and inappropriate behaviors.
  • EP 5: Leaders create and implement a process for managing disruptive and inappropriate behaviors.

In addition, standards pertaining to medical staff (physicians) have been organized to follow six core competencies (see the introduction to MS.4) to be addressed in the credentialing process, including interpersonal skills and professionalism.

Learn about specific Joint Commission standards

Learn more about workplace violence

Last updated 4/11/2014

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