December 1, 2022

Memo Stresses Hospitals' Obligations to Protect Workers from Violence

A memorandum published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Tuesday addresses the growing number of occupational injuries and illnesses among healthcare workers due to workplace violence. CMS, a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, outlines its expectations that leadership at healthcare facilities ensure the safety of both patients and workers to facilitate the effective delivery of healthcare. According to CMS, leadership must “provide adequate training, sufficient staffing levels, and ongoing assessment of patients and residents for aggressive behavior and indicators to adapt their care interventions and environment appropriately.”

The agency expects hospitals and other healthcare settings to implement patient risk assessment strategies and to be able to demonstrate how they identify patients at risk of self-harm or who might harm others. The CMS memo also reminds leadership that under national emergency preparedness requirements, hospitals’ emergency preparedness plans must include “a documented, facility-based and community-based risk assessment, utilizing an all-hazards approach.” Additional obligations include training for staff regarding environmental safety risks for patients and identifying patients at risk of intentional harm to themselves or others as well as relevant mitigation strategies.

CMS has previously cited hospitals for failing to meet these requirements, the memo warns. Its contents are effective immediately and should be communicated to staff and managers, the agency says.

The full memo can be viewed on CMS’ website (PDF).

Related:Preventing Workplace Violence,” an article published in the December 2018 issue of The Synergist, discusses strategies for keeping work sites safe.