Rising Workplace Violence and New Safety Guidance from The Joint Commission

Kim Barnhardt




Healthcare often involves pressure-filled moments with patients in various emotional states. Some are experiencing mental or physical trauma. Some are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Any of which can pose a danger to the patients themselves and those around them. Caregivers often face violence due to these factors, which has been compounded by the ongoing COVID pandemic. 

Hospital RNs have provided new insights into workplace violence, according to a survey from National Nurses United, released in September 2021. The most recent findings showed 31% of these RNs have faced an increase in workplace violence, up from 22% reported from a similar survey in March 2021. The RNs attribute the increase to decreased staffing levels, changes in the patient population and stricter limits on visitor access.

Added to this rise in violence, there is also staff burnout. Before COVID, 63% of hospital nurses reported they felt burnout. Then the pandemic stressed the health system to new limits. Now more than ever before, nurses and other healthcare workers need all the support they can get.

How a hospital’s existing RTLS technology can help

In Missouri, Cox Medical Center Branson saw assaults rise from 40 in 2019 to 123 in 2020. To better protect their staff, the hospital leveraged the same real-time locating system (RTLS) technology that was already automating their nurse call system. They expanded the system to make use of the Midmark RTLS Staff Assist solution, issuing staff badges equipped with panic buttons to 400 employees. 



Staff Assist provides a safety measure that delivers peace of mind for staff and management. Nurses and other healthcare workers can call for help anytime, anywhere.  

When under duress, a press of a button on their badge calls for help. An urgent alert is sent to facility security personnel via computer workstations and mobile phones so that help can be sent immediately to the precise location where it's needed. 

“Personal panic buttons are one more tool in the battle to keep our staff safe and further demonstrate this organization’s commitment to maintaining a safe work and care environment,” said Alan Butler, system director of public safety & security for CoxHealth. Butler also shared that the panic buttons “fill a critical void.”

New Joint Commission guidelines to keep staff safe 

Due to the rise in healthcare workplace violence, The Joint Commission has created new standards to guard against violent behavior and keep healthcare workers safe. These new and revised workplace violence prevention standards will take effect on January 1, 2022. The standards will apply to all Joint Commission-accredited hospitals and critical access hospitals. 

While the new standards do not call for implementing RTLS specifically, Midmark RTLS Staff Assist can help organizations make safety and staff retention a priority. For management, the solution is easy to implement, especially when the technology already exists as part of the hospital’s nurse call system. For staff, this extra layer of protection helps them focus more on patients so they can deliver a higher level of care.

Staff safety and other benefits for facilities

Beyond guarding against violence, there are other benefits when healthcare facilities implement RTLS. These include achieving compliance to Joint Commission standards, protecting against infection spread with automated contact tracing and more. For facilities already using Midmark RTLS for Nurse Call Automation, it’s simple to add Staff Assist to the existing system.

To learn more about Staff Assist—and other safety measures like contact tracing that Midmark RTLS can deliver for your facility—see the complete collection of Midmark RTLS Safety Solutions as well as our Midmark RTLS Staff Assist page.