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Hospitals Leading Efforts to Reduce Violence

August 18, 2017 By: Carmela Coyle

Violence in our communities and workplaces has become all too commonplace. In 2014, there were more than 365 violent crimes per 100,000 Americans across the country; in our state, that number is more than 446 per 100,000 Marylanders.

This phenomenon shatters lives and cripples communities. For hospitals, whose nurses and doctors must try to pick up the pieces, and who are often at direct risk of violence themselves, combating this threat is no longer a conceptual, long-term goal, but rather an imperative need to improve the lives of those you serve and the hospital employees who care for them.

Earlier this month, the American Hospital Association released a report showing that in 2016, hospitals and health systems spent $2.7 billion to combat the effects of violence. Preparedness and prevention to address community violence accounted for $280 million; unreimbursed medical care for victims totaled $852 million; $1.1 billion was spent on security and training costs; and $429 million went to medical care, staffing, indemnity, and other costs to cover violence against hospital employees.

The financial toll is sobering. The human toll is unfathomable.

That’s why hospital leaders should take some time to familiarize themselves with AHA’s yearlong Hospitals Against Violence initiative. The initiative’s website offers many resources and much information on how to combat violence in communities and hospitals.

In addition, MHA and the Maryland Nurses Association in September will host a workplace violence forum for hospital nurses and nurse leaders (invitations have been sent to every hospital in Maryland). The forum will feature experts on resiliency, so that employees can better cope with stress and crises, as well as best practices in hospital workplace violence prevention programs. There will also be an opportunity to engage in an open discussion on workplace violence issues in Maryland.

While the forum is an important opportunity for Maryland’s hospital nurse leaders to learn from one another so they can take steps to combat violence, turning the tide on this systemic public health challenge will take a long-term commitment from many community stakeholders. Hospitals, as they so often are, will be at the forefront.