Punishment & Crime

Well, after quite a long hiatus, I am glad to be back with you. I do apologize it has been so long since my last post, but as we all know – life does have a way of getting in the way. That said, lets get back to discussing violence against healthcare workers.

I have noticed that in much of the discussion around legislative reform to support violence prevention efforts, there is much discussion about enhanced punishments for those who assault healthcare workers. I am not opposed to this in the least, but I have often found the discussion distracting from the more relevant matters of actual prevention. Laws that increase the punishment for assaulting a healthcare worker neither deter, nor to they prevent actual violence. They only serve to punish those who have already been violent. I fully support the punishment fitting the crime.

My challenge to this line of thinking is that built into it is a fundamental flaw, in order to use this tool – someone still has to first be assaulted. Therefore, it has no place in a workplace violence prevention framework. I know, there are those who would say that increased punishment is a deterrent, but I would say there is little evidence to support this in any situation where it is used. Again – I am not opposed to these kinds of laws – I simply prefer to keep my focus on actual methods of prevention.

To me, the underlying issue is the clinical care connection to violence prevention. Much of the violence we see in healthcare is a direct result of disease progression. In still more cases there is a direct connection to altered mental status or an underlying lack of capacity to make effective decisions, which will undercut any criminal case from the outset. Would it not be better to focus our efforts on actual prevention? The implementation of tools like violence risk assessments or behavioral rapid response teams for example. These clinical tools not only allow us to create a safer environment for our staff, but also, they help us improve patient care. They also help us prevent violence instead of just reacting to it and isn’t that our truest goal.

How does your facility prevent violence? Do you see opportunities for legislative engagement to help facilitate true prevention? Do you see the connection between violence prevention and improved patient care? Join the conversation in the comments below, and don’t forget to like, follow, and share to support the Proactive Security Blog.

One thought

  1. Mike, couldn’t agree with you more. Strangely, this phenomena is not restricted to healthcare. I have seen examples in the financial industry where trade associations that have government resources testify about “changing the laws” regarding crime against financial institutions which will neither prevent or deter crime.

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