Risks of Violence for Mental Healthcare Workers

Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers advocate for safety in mental healthcare facilities.Mental healthcare is a hot topic in today’s society, especially in the wake of the numerous acts of workplace violence that have occurred over the past decade. Identifying and treating mental illness can hopefully stop the devastating mass shootings and violence that has plagued our country. While the focus is on establishing mental healthcare facilities and treatment programs, little focus has been placed on the risks that mental healthcare workers are facing in their jobs on a daily basis.

According to the occupational and health safety magazine, EHS Today, 75 percent of all workplace assaults occur in the healthcare industry, with the majority of these assaults happening in mental healthcare. Approximately one in five mental health patients in psychiatric facilities or units will become violent. Most of these assaults include weapons such as knives, razor blades, lighters, and syringes.

Healthcare workers face the risk of violence every day. Though the growing problem is recognized by healthcare administrators, little has been done to increase safety measures to protect these workers. Metal detectors and electronic search wands have proven to do little to protect workers from violence. In fact, these safety instruments have increased patient anxiety, which in turn increases the risk of violence.

Mental health patients often deal with anxiety and depression, with some suffering from hallucinations and paranoia. Putting these patients through the security checks that include pat downs and security wands can actually encourage them to hide weapons on their body because they think they need to protect themselves. Physically patting down or waving an electronic wand over their body can create hostility that results in violence.

Basic Security Might Not Be Enough

Many mental healthcare facilities use cameras and security guards to reduce the likelihood of violence, but in many cases, these tools are not effective. Patients entering a facility with a weapon hidden in their clothing, in their hair, or on their body are not going to be stopped at the door. Many of these patients will become violent when they feel they are provoked or when they become agitated. Cameras and security guards can only react once the violence is in process. Careful screening of patients before they enter a facility can prevent the violence before it happens.

A new magnetic scanning device is being tested in many mental health facilities across the country. The ferromagnetic detection system (FMDS) is a passive device that picks up magnetic materials so small that most are invisible to traditional scanners. While the device does not detect metal, it does detect magnetic forces, so small items such as razor blades can be found without having to physically pat down or scan an anxious patient. Healthcare administrators are hopeful that better detection will lead to the prevention of violent acts, which will help reduce the risks that healthcare workers face everyday.

Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Advocate for Safety in Mental Healthcare

If you have been injured in a workplace accident, you may be entitled Workers’ Compensation benefits. Call the Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. at 888-999-1962, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Pinehurst, North Carolina and serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.