Some financial impact driven by threats of violence is irreparable, unseen, or indirect, yet still affects organizational fiscal health in how it impacts new-hire attraction, employee retention, staff morale, and community standing. Again, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Raquel Rutledge’s exposé in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel details the hidden costs of unseen injuries, psychological and otherwise, arising from violence against caregivers.
For generations, medical professionals – especially nurses – were expected to accept that a certain amount of violence was an inherent risk of the profession. The acceptance of the risk of injury from violence on the job (for these caregivers as well as those responsible for the condition of their workplace) is an entirely different matter.
A new generation of nurses and their unions began speaking out about the fundamental unreasonableness of such a standard and started demanding change. Active legislative lobbying in many states, for example Texas became the 34th, to ensure all caregivers are treated equally with other professionals or their emergency counterparts when prosecuting assault & battery as an automatic felony, rather than a misdemeanor elevated to a felony based on the level of injury caused or threatened.
There is no national standard in this regard, as the Senate did not take up the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act that passed in the House in 2019. This leaves states to deal with this issue in a variety of ways:
Opposition to legislation that punishes offenders and implements workplace protections generally argues that existing laws are sufficient and the cost of prevention excessive. Of course, mounting evidence to the contrary renders these arguments ineffective and potentially counterproductive for the industry.
One comment that got to the heart of the issue was raised during a hearing on legislation that would become Wisconsin Act 96, the most recent state with a “Caregiver Battery as Felony” statute: “The State of Wisconsin doesn’t need more felonies with which to charge its citizens, but neither is violent injury acceptable as part of the caregiver’s job.” That same day, speaking in support of what would become Act 52, legislation serving to ensure Wisconsinites legal access to Presidia Gel, I summarized Reflex Protect as intended to prevent an assault from becoming a completed battery, whether in a hospital, school, or wherever people live, work, worship, and play.
The value of ensuring a reputation for safety is indirect, but easily quantifiable when it comes to retaining qualified caregivers. This is made infinitely easier for those organizations that supply a safe and respectful workplace.
For example, the average cost of turnover for a bedside RN is $44,375, “with the range averaging from $33,300 to $56,000 resulting in the average hospital losing $4.9 million a year. Each percent change in RN turnover will cost/save the average hospital $306,400 per year. Whereas the cost of turnover can range to two times annual salary for professional positions, this conservative figure still represents a tremendous drain on profits.” This makes clear that the implementation of a reasonably priced workplace violence prevention plan that keeps a single RN from leaving for a safer facility or occupation (let alone becoming disabled or dying and the attendant costs thereof) proves a substantial boon to the organization’s bottom line.
We’ve seen the damage done by Covid-19 to hospitals and other medical facilities who are bearing the burden of unsafe reputations. Because of the required response to Covid-19 safety concerns, now is the ideal time for hospitals to implement broad and cost-effective safety preparedness measures for virus as well as violence.
Covid-19 is likely to have another, nearly immediate effect on the economic aspects of workplace safety for our now highly visible community heroes. Caregivers and other medical staff, unionized or not, are bound to have additional political capital during upcoming collective bargaining or contract negotiations. While compensation and benefits are bound to top the list of employee demands, the sea change in respect to expectations discussed above dictates that safety will likely play a major role in those negotiations. Attention to it sooner rather than later could play a substantial and inexpensive role in establishing goodwill between the administration of healthcare organizations and their frontline personnel, directly affecting morale, hiring, and retention, as well as previously discussed direct costs.
Reflex Protect® can be easily integrated into hospital operations a la carte or via a turn-key, subscription model platform that includes our hospital-safe product line and certified training courses in its use (both in-person or lockdown-friendly online-only). Reflex Protect also offers end-to-end implementation support:
Depending on the size of the facility, security measures already in place, depth of implementation, and the number of certified users of the products, pricing starts as low as $19.95 to protect a single nurse on her walk to the car to a monthly subscription to outsource virtually everything except the staff to be protected. For purposes of example, a typical urgent care clinic with around ten full-time staff and a half dozen treatment rooms could easily be well outfitted with RP docking stations, Pocket Presidia Gel®, Reflex Remove™, and certified online training (including “trainer training”) for less than $1,000 or a monthly subscription fee of less than $100.
Reflex Protect’s Director of Active Defense Training and sales representative for healthcare clients, Alain Burrese, will be happy to help put together a customized proposal based on your specific needs.
There has never been anything like Reflex Protect available for caregivers to request (or a healthcare organization to offer) that was “hospital safe” yet highly effective in deterring, preventing, and protecting against threats or acts of violence. Addressing workplace violence as part of an overall effort to improve worker safety is timely right now. Healthcare organizations that do not take care of their human resources during this most dire of times are liable to suffer unnecessary and avoidable losses of the kind that may be difficult or impossible to recoup or repair without disproportionate remedial action in the future. Investing now in prioritizing the safety and wellbeing of workers is fiscally responsible in both the immediate and long term, and more significantly, a failure to do so is actually irresponsible and unwise.
In short, implementation of the Reflex Protect Active Defense Solution will more than pay for itself on a dollar-for-dollar basis in the foreseeable future, whereas failure to strive to achieve the goodwill that comes from informing workers they are cared about and valued could have untold long-term negative consequences.
Joe Anderson is the CEO of Reflex Protect