Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Raquel Rutledge recently issued a blistering exposé in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the disturbing failure of healthcare facilities to keep nurses safe at work, especially on the walk to and from their cars at shift change. Her reporting comes on the heels of our most recent blog about the role of new non-lethal active defense solutions specifically made for the unique needs of medical environments.
Ms. Rutledge reports that budgetary priorities are often blamed for widespread injuries and even loss of life. Her investigation uncovered that as of 2018, nearly half of hospitals did not have formal workplace violence protection programs. Alan Butler, the former president of the International Association of Health Care Security & Safety, was quoted as saying: “You have an indefensible position if you try to say, ‘We didn’t think it could happen here.’” But he goes on in the article to indicate that there often is little economic incentive for hospitals to invest in safety preparedness efforts: “Security as a whole does not generate revenue for an organization,” explains Butler.”
This, simply put, is as obscene as it is wrong. Cliché as “a stitch in time saves nine” may be, a reasonable investment in risk mitigation is fundamental to avoiding far more substantial expenditures to repair, replace, or resolve avoidable injury and damages. Organizations do it all the time when it comes to fire prevention, property theft or vandalism, and guest or visitor “slip & fall” avoidance measures. At Reflex Protect, we argue there are substantial economic benefits – especially in an era informed by Covid-19 – to a healthcare organization that invests as thoughtfully in the safety, health, and well-being of caregivers and employees as it does its property and clientele.
Fortunately, with the attention on our “hero caregivers” and other staff in hospitals battling Covid-19 despite Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shortages and other challenges, it’s more likely than ever for real progress to be made. Almost every hospital, clinic, and medical office in the country has had to re-evaluate its safety preparedness for the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Although accomplished generally on the fly for the past few months, more formal and permanent changes are becoming solidified as time passes and these new challenges become the “new normal.”
Ms. Rutlege’s reporting and OSHA and Joint Commission mandates (e.g. Sentinel Alert #59 April 2018) make clear this problem is no longer hidden from public view or the attention of healthcare executives. It’s high time to take the next step: a hospital-safe, non-lethal active defense solution to minimize the ongoing scourge of violence against caregivers. What’s more, the economic benefit of violence preparedness can be easily assessed and measures carried out as part of an overall safety preparedness review right now as those reviews are taking place across the country.
Deterring, preventing, or stopping violence before serious harm occurs obviously minimizes the expense of healing, repairing, or responding to it. Of course, improvements in lighting, communications, video surveillance, and security staffing can help with deterrence or speed of response. But only a non-lethal active defense solution provides caregivers with the peace of mind that comes from being trained and equipped to act as their own first responders. The time between potential violence erupting and the arrival of security or police (the “response gap”) too often ends in avoidable injury and property damage.
An active defense product gives security and caregivers the power to exert controlling force from a distance without going hands-on with the potentially violent subject. This is safer not only from a physical injury standpoint, but also in respect to potential infection and/or mental/emotional injury.
Reflex Protect® brand Presidia Gel® non-atomizing sprays, when combined with revolutionary Reflex Remove™ decontamination products, empower what we call “compassionate controlling force” over a potentially violent subject without cross-contaminating the indoor environment or innocents in it. This unique combination makes it the only “hospital safe” active defense solution on the market.
There’s no question that maintenance of the sensitive, contamination-free, and healing environment of a hospital or other medical facility does not lend itself to typical forms of self-defense. Weapons like guns and knives are generally forbidden, and even “non-lethal” measures such as pepper sprays or Tasers have potential cross-contamination or other dangerous unwanted effects, preventing their use in most such facilities.
Most obviously, caregivers are trained to heal, not hurt.
Reflex Protect® addressed these challenges by creating Presidia Gel® specifically for medical workers. Any person who has used a spray bottle at home can operate Reflex™ products. We made it targeted and sticky enough to hit just the one person you need to hit, stop them quickly, incapacitate them fully, and then allow both the patient and surroundings to be put back to normal within minutes. We are immeasurably proud that it has proven to deter, prevent, and protect against potential violence resulting in lasting harm to anyone, without otherwise affecting the operations of the sensitive healthcare environment. As one of our earliest fans, an ER nurse put it, “It’s like Lysol® for jerks!”
Most of the time, merely brandishing our distinctive can was enough to change undesirable behavior. When it was used, the aggressor lost no body control, took and knee, and begged to be relieved of the immediate discomfort, a wish granted by application of Reflex Remove™ within two minutes. No one but the subject was affected, and frequently the rest of the facility (or even hallway or station) was utterly unaware an event had occurred.
This unique combination of elements – found only with Reflex Protect products – combined with gold-standard online or in-person training in its use, is now considered “best practice” in violence preparedness wherever it has been employed.
The peace of mind this brings is priceless.
Next week: “How Does Reflex Protect Improve a Hospital’s Bottom Line?”
Joe Anderson is the CEO of Reflex Protect