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Violence Prevention in Health Care Facilities

Violence is common in health care facilities across the country (not just in VA). More than 50 percent of all reported workplace assaults happen in hospitals, clinics, and other health care settings. VA works continually to provide a safe environment for all.

VA believes "prevention is the key" and encourages employees to recognize the signs of potential violence. Through specialized training, our employees learn to protect Veterans who are receiving medical care and also themselves.

VA’s violence prevention practices

Behind the scenes, here’s how VA makes it possible to maintain safety for Veterans, VA staff and visitors:

Three men practice violence prevention on a dummy

Demonstration of controlling a
violent person using a dummy

  • VA has developed violence prevention programs that teach VA employees how to recognize, de-escalate, and moderate disruptive or threatening incidents. When such an event occurs, employees are better equipped to handle it and prevent disturbance to other Veteran patients.
  • VA has developed an innovative system that shares information from ethics committees, VA police, ombudsman, attorneys (general counsel), and VA clinicians. This network helps VA personnel to identify violence risk and to stop it before it escalates.
  • Each facility is expected to conduct a comprehensive workplace violence assessment based on its own data of where incidents and injuries have occurred. This makes the facility more aware of specific areas to watch and which employees may benefit from increased intensity of violence de-escalation training.
  • All VA medical centers must have a Disruptive Behavior Committee, headed by a senior clinician, to advise and make recommendations about incidents that do occur and to prevent others in the future.
  • Veterans Health Administration (VHA) uses a secure reporting system to identify these incidents and manage violence risks. One feature of this system is that it can alert VA employees, within the first minutes of a medical visit, to information necessary to promote Veteran and staff safety during the visit. When warranted, and after an extensive and individual review, VA may limit the time, place, and manner in which healthcare is delivered to those who pose a violence risk to themselves and others. All Veterans maintain full access to care VA provides.

Our efforts have paid off: Assault rates and workers compensation claims for violence-related incidents are lower in VHA than in other healthcare systems.

For more information, read the article, Preventing Patient Violence in VA Health Care (2.6 MB, PDF) on pages 14-15 in VAnguard magazine.

Learn about the program objectives of VA's Behavioral Threat Management and Violence Prevention programs.

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