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Violence in healthcare settings is underreported and growing, warns the Joint Commission. The accreditation body, which audits healthcare providers’ compliance with regulatory mandates, recently updated an alert it first issued in 2010 on preventing violence in healthcare settings.

In that alert, the Joint Commission highlighted top failures by healthcare providers that contributed to violent incidents in recent years. Among those factors, leadership failure was found to contribute to 62% of violent incidents — particularly failure to implement adequate emergency management policies and procedures. Just as worrisome, communication failure (with staff, first responders, patients, and visitors) was found to aggravate 53% of violent events in healthcare settings.

In planning for potential workplace violence, healthcare experts have given special attention to active shooter scenarios, which require a specific approach, different from other violent scenarios. A couple of months ago, the International Association of Emergency Medical Services Chiefs (IAEMSC) updated its Active Shooter Planning and Response Guide, specific to healthcare settings.

Communications will be the key to the success or failure of responding to an active shooter situation,” the guide cautions. As you might guess, the guide goes on to list communications with first responders, public safety agencies, the facility’s command center and security teams, staff, patients, and others as important components of an appropriate response.

It’s a hefty guidebook with lots of ground to cover, so we’ll leave you with a video instead. The following is a brief training video published by the MESH Coalition, based on guidelines by the Department of Homeland Security. Although the video targets healthcare providers in Marion County, Indiana, it’s still great advice for healthcare facilities everywhere.

The 11-minute video includes vital components for your active shooter planning, including how to instruct people at risk: