Patients who feel safe during their hospital stays are able to receive and benefit from caregivers’ compassionate care. Unfortunately, the inverse is also true: patients who feel unsafe do not receive the full benefit of their caregivers’ efforts. This is often because, in an unsafe work environment, caregivers themselves are stressed and therefore unable to offer a high-quality patient experience. Workplace violence does not only negatively affect those directly involved in violent incidents. It also decreases a hospital staff’s ability to care effectively for patients. In this way, hospital safety is a critical element in ensuring patient satisfaction. Every hospital should develop a workplace violence safety plan that provides its workers with the security that enables them to provide the best possible patient care.
Harmful Effects of Workplace Violence on Caregivers
Workplace violence directly affects a hospital’s financial success. The number of violent incidents on record at any healthcare institution affects employee satisfaction, patient experience, accreditation, and the institution’s reputation. Hospitals are also incentivized to improve patient experience in response to patients’ increased access to technology and information; patients have more options than ever before. Hospitals are also showing increased attention to patient satisfaction in response to changes in government policy: under the Affordable Care Act, the Medicare program can financially incentivize providers who provide a good patient experience.
For hospitals to be profitable, their administrators need to provide a high level of patient satisfaction. This is impossible in a setting in which workplace violence occurs regularly. Caregivers whose physical safety is in danger, or who work at hospitals where workplace violence is common, become preoccupied and sometimes traumatized, worrying about their safety. Many of them are overworked, due to the absenteeism produced by workplace violence in healthcare. Studies on the effects of workplace violence on nurses and patient care have shown that experiences of workplace violence increase nurses’ stress levels, burnout, and fear in the workplace. Nurse absenteeism, job dissatisfaction, intent to leave the profession and post-traumatic stress symptoms are also tied to incidents of violence in the healthcare workplace. Under these conditions, nurses are unable to deliver the quality of care that patients deserve and demand.
Improving Hospital Safety Improves Job Satisfaction
According to K. Kelly Hancock, Executive Chief Nursing Officer at Cleveland Clinic, “Healthcare organizations need to take better care of caregivers so they can take better care of patients.” Hancock is among many administrators focused on their employees’ safety and sense of security on the job. It is now widely recognized that workplace violence negatively affects nurses’ quality of patient care and productivity, and increases the potential for medical errors or adverse events. The connection between hospital safety and patient experience is becoming increasingly clear.
The American Hospital Association (AHA) recommends a federal law be passed to protect healthcare employees from workplace assault or intimidation, similar to those that safeguard airline workers. According to the AHA, the Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) Act will help create a nationwide culture of hospital safety. This culture of hospital safety must extend into individual institutions to ensure patient satisfaction. Much like in schools, where positive school culture is essential to the happiness and well-being of students, teachers, and staff, a culture of hospital safety is essential to the happiness and well-being of healthcare workers at all levels.
The Connection Between Hospital Safety and Patient Satisfaction
According to healthcare industry experts, various factors contribute to a high-quality patient experience.
- Feeling understood: patients desire nonjudgmental and understanding responses from their caregivers.
- Convenience: patients want easy and fast access to healthcare.
- Integrative health services: patients benefit from holistic care that attends to both their mental and physical health.
- Positive clinical atmosphere: patients feel less stress in calm clinical environments.
- Short wait times: patients want their healthcare appointments to run on time.
- Transparency: patients do not want to be kept in the dark about treatments and costs.
- Relational follow-through: patients desire personalized treatment and kind communication.
- The “you” factor: patients are happier receiving care from kind, compassionate caregivers.
Each of these factors is affected by a patient’s feeling of security. In a hospital in which employees are constantly under the stress of workplace violence, patients are unlikely to receive the optimal amount of personalized attention. Violent incidents also require staff members at all levels to leave their stations or patient rooms to intervene. This leads to decreased convenience and long wait times for patients, which decreases patient satisfaction. A clinical atmosphere in which frequent violent incidents require emergency attention is harrowing. In seeking transparency, hospitals must disclose ongoing problems with workplace violence. For care providers, giving personalized, compassionate care when their safety is incredibly challenging.
How Patient Satisfaction Contributes to the Bottom Line
Patient satisfaction is directly linked to key success metrics for hospitals and other healthcare providers: it impacts clinical outcomes, patient retention, and reimbursement claims. Improving the patient experience can furthermore help a hospital improve its financial performance by strengthening customer loyalty, building reputation and brand, and boosting utilization of hospital services through increased referrals to family and friends. In addition, regulatory agencies increasingly seek to link patient experience scores to reimbursement, and the consensus is growing that devoting resources toward improving patient experience provides value for both the patient and the hospital.
The bottom line: organizations that provide “superior” patient experience achieve net margins 50 percent higher than those providing “average” patient experience. This makes it vital for organizations to evaluate the entire continuum of the patient experience. Patient and employee safety looms large on this continuum. Hospitals that implement a workplace violence safety plan create a culture of safety that, in turn, increases margins. In short, hospital safety is profitable.
Create a Workplace Safety Plan with CENTEGIX
The CENTEGIX CrisisAlert system creates a climate of safety in hospitals and other healthcare settings. Its wearable panic buttons make it possible for employees to call for help from anywhere on campus, which provides a level of security that enables them to provide quality care. By investing in the CENTEGIX CrisisAlert system, hospitals minimize the environmental stressors that contribute to caregivers’ inability to provide good patient experiences. This is one way that hospitals can care for their caregivers.
When hospitals implement the CENTEGIX CrisisAlert system, they are able to collect data about violent incidents. This data reveals where and when incidents are most likely to occur and allows administrators to implement prevention strategies. In doing so, hospitals commit to a culture of safety, thereby contributing to employees’ job satisfaction and ability to provide effective care. CENTEGIX CrisisAlert also facilitates the creation of a chain of command that identifies who is notified in emergencies; this prevents administrators from pulling staff away from patient care to deal with violent incidents. Caregivers can therefore stay with patients, providing seamless care that results in high patient satisfaction metrics.
Staff who are equipped with a CENTEGIX CrisisAlert safety badge can call for help discreetly and receive help quickly. Their alert goes directly to the administrator or designated team members who are trained and ready to handle incidents of workplace violence. As a result, these employees are spared the brunt of the short and long-term stress associated with these incidents. In an era when staffing and retention are an ongoing challenge for hospitals, a workplace violence safety plan is a necessity. These plans ensure the safety of the healthcare workforce and maximize hospitals’ profitability.
CENTEGIX is the leader in incident response solutions. Our CrisisAlert platform is the fastest and easiest way for staff to call for help in any emergency, from the everyday to the extreme. CENTEGIX creates safer spaces by innovating technology to empower and protect people, and leaders nationwide trust our safety solutions to provide peace of mind. To learn more about CENTEGIX, visit www.centegix.com.