Several weeks ago, I shared a letter that MHA sent the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services asking for assistance in efforts to address the problem of violence in hospitals. This week, we sent a letter to Gov. Eric Greitens seeking support at the state level.
Violence in hospitals poses a threat to providers’ ability to deliver care, and staff and administrators’ requirement to protect patients, families and the workforce. There aren’t easy solutions. And, hospitals cannot solve the problem of violence in the hospital setting alone.
In the letter, I shared a story I heard recently from a hospital executive in southwest Missouri. At that hospital, seven of the beds in the hospital’s 14-bed emergency department were filled with patients awaiting a behavioral health transfer or placement. Sadly, this isn’t uncommon. I also shared research from 2016 claims data which revealed that mental health and substance abuse patients spent more than 550,000 combined hours in Missouri’s emergency departments waiting for stabilization and discharge or transfer to an appropriate care setting. This is the equivalent of 63.1 years.
The crisis in behavioral health care isn’t the only driver of increased violence in hospitals. Other problems, including the opioid and drug abuse crisis and community-based toxic stress, add to the challenge. In 2017, 66 Missouri hospitals — half of all survey participants in MHA’s hazard vulnerability analysis — indicated that violence was one of their top three internal threats.
MHA staff has been conducting a listening tour to understand how violence is permeating hospitals, and what strategies should be put in place to minimize or eliminate these risks for staff, patients and visitors. More than 225 hospital leaders have participated. We’ll have a clearer view of the actionable and aspirational goals when the results are compiled.
The listening tour, our outreach to state and federal leaders, and the ongoing S.A.F.E.R. Initiative — a program that provides resources to strengthen patient, workplace and community safety — are the beginning of what will be a long-term effort. Our emergency preparedness programs have included programming and planning to safeguard workers and patients, and the Hospital Improvement and Innovation Network programs include a worker safety component.
It was clear from our recent MHA District Council meetings that this issue is a high priority for hospitals. Now, we need to build a coalition of stakeholders to help address causes and solutions. Success will require support from law enforcement, behavioral health and community leaders, among others.
Violence in hospitals poses a threat to the strength of the workforce, jeopardizes the ability of caregivers to safely provide quality care and exposes hospital organizations to significant regulatory scrutiny. Doing nothing isn’t an option. However, we can’t do it alone.
We’ll be sharing more information as the partners and our strategies unfold.
Let me know what you think.
Herb B. Kuhn
MHA President and CEO
In This Issue
Congress Reauthorizes And Expands Child Deafness Programs
MO HealthNet Updates Hospice Rates
DHSS Publishes CCHD Final Rule