Addressing Workplace Violence: Trusting Your Gut + Taking Action

Jeanne Kraimer




There’s a saying that real learning happens in the real world. Innocent teens taking their first drive, graduate students preparing their capstones, or a couple starting their life together after tying the knot. Hands-on experience is where a lot of us learn the most.

The same can be said for healthcare workers in a situation they probably think will never happen to them: workplace violence.

Harnessing Awareness

One in four nurses are assaulted1, yet some nurses don’t have the right tools to get help in the moment. Though experience is a powerful teacher, making it through a hostile situation isn’t really on their bucket list. Nurses are often left to fall back on trusting their gut instinct—the ability to recognize certain behaviors to help detect or maneuver a potentially violent situation.

Becker’s Hospital Review recently highlighted the University of New England’s work on awareness and how listening to your gut instinct can play an important role in the outcome.

Specifically, the university has taken a proactive approach by adding a violence awareness certification course to their nursing program. It equips nursing students with the skills to recognize, reduce and manage aggressive behavior before violent attacks happen or escalate. Nurses may not know exactly what will happen, but they at least have a mental checklist for de-escalating a situation.

Navigating the Unpredictable

Beyond experience and trusting your gut, how can clinical staff be more prepared to take action in the moment?

Recognizing warning signs and knowing how to de-escalate can make a difference, but sometimes outbursts and heightened situations come out of nowhere.

Call button on the other side of the room? Not helpful if you’re cornered.

Yell for help? Odds of receiving help in time don’t look great if the door is closed.

Nurses often have no time to think or plan. They must simply act. What can make all the difference in this situation? The right technology—a personal duress button at their fingertips—that drives a response.

Response time is key in workplace violence because nurses can have to go from initial gut feeling to resolution in a matter of minutes, sometimes seconds.

A staff duress solution with a personal duress button helps get the needed response quickly. Here’s how it works:

  • A nurse discreetly presses the button at the top of her lightweight badge used for nurse call.
  • The call signals the sensory network to transmit the alert.
  • The security officer and/or other staff receive the alert in real time, including who, where and when, allowing the incident to be responded to and resolved faster.
  • Key incident data is recorded to assist with compliance, enable data-driven decision making and provide staff peace of mind.

Empowering Safety for Quality Care

Awareness is a critical step in getting ahead of the healthcare workplace violence crisis. Experience and gut instinct can drive awareness but having the protective tools and resources to act quickly and drive quick responses is key for staff and patient safety. Everyone in the healthcare setting should feel safe. After all, safety is the catalyst to quality care.

Check out this video to learn more about the impacts a staff duress solution can have on your entire healthcare system.


1 American Nurses Association