Taking Care of Our Own:
Preventing workplace violence: How to spot and respond to disruptive, aggressive individuals
By Perry Spencer, Manager of uniformed operations, UMHHC Security and Entrance Services
Tragic and violent workplace incidents, such as the September shooting at Johns Hopkins Hospital that left a patient and family member dead and a doctor wounded, are rare - but often are preventable.
Workplace violence seldom "just happens." The typical review of such incidents show several points during the preceding days and hours when the perpetrator’s behavior caused concern and when intervention would have been appropriate and effective.
Early intervention is the key to preventing workplace violence. Here at the U-M Health System, early intervention can start with a phone call to:
A team approach is used, with the makeup of the team depending on who is involved (i.e. patient, staff, visitor, etc.) and the severity of the situation. This approach allows for a comprehensive and timely response that works to remove the immediate threat of violence and to reach a permanent resolution.
When and how does a staff member ask for help and intervention? There are times when it is clear that an intervention needs to occur, such as when a person becomes angry and their behavior is escalating.
Perhaps they are rapidly pacing while clenching their fists; their face is turning red and their voice keeps getting louder.
If faced with this situation:
Other times are not quite as clear, but early intervention is still critical to prevent violent behavior.
These are times when you or your co-workers:
In these situations, staff members should notify their supervisors or Security and explain their concerns so they can be investigated and the appropriate intervention taken.
The UMHHC workplace violence prevention website, www.med.umich.edu/i/security/behavior.htm, provides detailed information for managing aggressive and disruptive behavior, as well as various policies and references.
Trust your gut instinct. If it tells you something is wrong, tell someone. Don’t be the person saying, "I knew I should have called Security."
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