Health care workers provide an invaluable service that benefits everyone in Alaska. As a health care worker, you are probably extremely proud of the care you provide to your patients. Unfortunately, that care you are providing often takes place in a dangerous environment. Workplace violence is a growing threat in the medical industry, and no one is immune.
Maybe you have already experienced workplace violence firsthand. Even if you have not, you probably know someone who has. According to one medical expert, workplace violence in medical facilities is an epidemic hidden from the public eye. This is perhaps because patients and visitors cause a significant number of these violent episodes.
Health care workers are vulnerable
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics collects data on workplace injuries. This data includes nonfatal injuries that are intentional injury by another person, which means incidents of workplace violence. According to the BLS, the private industry sector reported 18,400 workplace violence injuries in 2017. The health care and social assistance sectors comprised 71% of those reports.
Part of the problem comes down to accessible facilities. Hospitals, outpatient facilities and other health care locations want to offer easily accessible locations where patients can easily seek care. However, making these facilities easy to access also means sacrificing certain security concerns.
How are employers protecting workers?
Many hospitals and other health care systems now require a number of additional security features. Certain areas are only for those who do not have badge access, and many facilities are equipped with things like panic buttons and metal detectors. Limiting guest hours and increasing police presence are also extremely helpful for mitigating instances of workplace violence.
Metal detectors are also keeping medical facilities safer. One hospital system operating in another state recently implemented metal detectors at a number of its facilities. In 2018 alone, it discovered and confiscated 30,000 weapons. Most -- but not all -- of those were edged weapons and included things like:
- Box cutters
- Razor blades
- Stun Guns
Is violence a problem at your workplace?
You should be able to go to work without fearing for your safety. However, health care can be an unpredictable field, and you may have no choice but to work in facilities where patients or visitors are prone to violence. Even if you think you work in a relatively safe facility, violence can happen anywhere.
If you were injured in an attack at work, you might not know that you can apply for workers' compensation benefits. Most people assume that these benefits are only for victims who were involved in catastrophic accidents. This is not the case. If you suffered any type of injury while on the job -- including because of workplace violence -- you probably qualify for workers' comp, which covers things like lost wages and medical bills. If you are confused, you can always speak with an experienced attorney, who can help you figure out your options.