A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services guide released in December 2014 is helping healthcare facilities to become better prepared to prevent and respond to active shooters in the workplace.
“Incorporating Active Shooter Incident Planning into Health Care Facility Emergency Operations Plans” covers the three time frames associated with active shooter incidents: pre-incident (prevention, protection and mitigation); incident (response and the beginning phases of recovery); and post-incident (recovery).
Healthcare workers reported an estimated 9,200 workplace violence incidents in 2013, according to the CDC’s NIOSH Science blog, which states the majority of events were perpetrated by patients or their family members.
“This represents 67% of all nonfatal violence-related injuries from an industry that only represents 11.5% of all workers,” Dan Hartley, EdD, wrote in the blog. “In terms of fatal workplace violence, overall we have seen a decreasing trend over the past 10 years while the numbers of homicides in healthcare have remained relatively stable. In each of the past 10 years, 15 healthcare workers have been the victims of workplace homicide annually.”
A hospital-based shootings study reported an increase from nine active shooter incidents per year from 2000 to 2005, to almost 17 per year from 2006 to 2011, according to the blog.
The HHS guide recommends training healthcare workers to respond to an active shooter. “Each person carries a three-fold responsibility,” the guide states. “First: Learn signs of a potentially volatile situation and ways to prevent an incident. Second: Learn steps to increase survival of self and others in an active shooter incident. Third: Be prepared to work with law enforcement during the response.”
The guide includes steps such as training employees to identify individuals who may be on a trajectory to commit a violent act; a method for reporting active shooter incidents; evacuation policy and procedure; emergency escape procedures and route assignments; and lockdown procedures. “The active shooter incident is still an anomaly in the healthcare setting,” Hartley wrote in the blog. “However, training in how to prevent and respond to an active shooter incident is very important and should complement training in prevention and response to other more prevalent types of workplace violence.”
In addition to the HHS guide, NIOSH has an online workplace violence prevention training program for nurses and other healthcare professionals. Over 10,000 healthcare professionals have completed it, Hartley stated in the blog.
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