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Iredell Health System Team-Tackles the Risk of Healthcare Violence

Monday, April 1, 2019

In the healthcare industry where, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration, serious workplace violence occurs four times more than the national average, violent incidences and verbal attacks are routinely faced by hospital employees.

Physical assault and threats of assault are becoming more frequent in hospitals, and many go unreported.

Though healthcare professionals often receive inadequate training to safely handle violent situations, Iredell Health System recently took action to mitigate the risk of injury and enhance patient experience while resolving crises.

“Our teams shared with us the need for specific training and competency in this area – and we listened,” said Dennis Campbell, Iredell Health System’s Assistant Vice President of Nursing & Patient Care Services.

To better equip hospital employees in its Emergency, Security, and Nursing departments with the knowledge and tools to be self-aware and protect themselves and others, Iredell Health System partnered with Mitigation Dynamics, Inc., a global risk mitigation organization, to participate in the organization’s Safe Training and Responsible Restraints (S.T.A.R.R.) Control System program.

The S.T.A.R.R. program helps hospital employees address emergencies with a team-oriented response system. It provided Iredell Health System employees with training on verbal de-escalation, restraining techniques, and real-life scenarios. The training required moderate physical agility and focused on the safety of patients, visitors and staff.

“The verbal ways to try to deescalate situations is important because it reminds us that we need to show empathy toward our patients,” said Debra Crew, a nurse with the Health System’s Emergency Department. “By taking the extra minute to talk to a patient, you never know how it can affect someone.”

The Health System had nine instructors and 70 end users participate in a recent training. End users attended one full day, while instructors attended two full days and a day of co-teaching practice.

The training included practical application of escort maneuvers used to safely guide patients that may be confused or have dementia. It taught how to utilize body mechanics to safely restrain and move patients between a wheelchair, chair, car, or bed while reducing the risk of injury to the patient and employee.

“I feel more confident knowing that there are other staff members trained to help me safely diffuse the situation or restrain the client if need be,” said Aaron Wilson, a nurse with the Health System’s Emergency Department.

The training taught nurses how to effectively control dangerous situations if they don’t have enough time to wait for security. Crew described one of the ways the training brought coworkers together. “Learning team-takedown techniques built our teamwork and trust with coworkers. The team-building activity strengthened the bonds between coworkers and other departments throughout the hospital,” she said.

Lauren Del Aguila, a Health System nurse, described her background and how she believes participation in the training sets Iredell Health System apart.

“My background and passion are in mental health and, sadly, many hospitals with psychiatric units fail to provide this type of training for their employees. Investing in the S.T.A.R.R. training really shows me that Iredell Health System cares about my safety,” she said.

Employees felt that they left the training with increased confidence, higher safety skills, and greater appreciation for the hospital.

“I feel safer working here at Iredell Health System and feel like our leadership heard our concerns and are as concerned for our safety as we are,” Wilson said.

“We are thankful the organization brought MDI to our facility,” said Rhonda Ruppe, Emergency Department Director for Iredell. “The empowerment to protect yourself and coworkers is priceless.