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    Violence against healthcare workers has “become worse” since the COVID-19 pandemic, but new strategies are tackling the problem. Jackie Thornton reports.

    A new joint study by the International Council of Nurses, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Hospital Federation, and the World Medical Association has found that violence against doctors is endemic regardless of a country’s security situation. Additionally, respondents believed that violence against healthcare workers by patients or their families has worsened and become more common since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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    More than 120 responses were received to the 31-question survey from May to July 2021. The report, released July 19, found that among organizations that had received reports of violence, 58 percent of respondents saw an increase, with 30 percent disagreeing. And 12 percent were not sure. Of those who reported violence, 9 percent said it did not happen before the pandemic. All reported verbal aggression. 82% mentioned threats and physical attacks, while 27% reported that staff were threatened with weapons. 21% reported death or serious injury to a health care worker or patient.

    International Council of Nurses executive director Howard Keaton said concrete action is needed to end impunity for torturers. “This report highlights that the risks, attacks and violence faced by nurses and other health workers have increased during the pandemic. Employers and governments have a duty of care to their staff and the health Investigate and punish attacks on maintenance.

    The authors told The Lancet in an email that, for their organizations, “the additional value of the report is that it uncovers best practices for combating others who use violence against health care. can inspire action for.” And can change its reality. The violence they may experience. cope with”.

    Dr Louisa Pettigrew, a researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a general practitioner in the UK, said it was worrying to see that this was a global problem in the context of a global shortage of health workers. They agreed that despite the very small sample size, the study still shows that the problem is affecting different settings and that health care leaders in each country are paying attention to the issues they face. Should help focus for better understanding.

    The survey highlights the importance of improving relationships between health staff and patients and family members, with most participants citing communication skills training as an effective measure to reduce potentially violent situations. Advised. Despite the continued presence of violence, there are practical solutions. The report highlights successful strategies from Bulgaria, Colombia, Italy, Portugal and Taiwan that can be implemented globally.

    Using data from an online study, the frequency of violent incidents has dropped from 9 cases per 1,000 workers to 4 cases per 1,000 workers since the start of the pandemic, the Portuguese Association for Hospital Development said in the report. But it has arrived. Reporting system. The reduction was due to a number of initiatives, including the creation of a remote video call hotline, 24-hour support from trained experts, and the designation of a security focal point for staff to coordinate with security officers.

    In Italy in 2020, after lobbying by nurses, the country’s parliament passed a new law to combat violence against health care workers, increasing prison sentences for those from 4 16 years who cause personal injury or very serious harm to health personnel and an administrative sanction of €500 to €5,000 for an action other than a crime involving violence, abuse, crime or Harassment included. A national conference on prevention of violence against education and health personnel was organized (March 12) to create awareness on the subject.

    In Taiwan, the Nurses’ Association established a procedure for reporting violent COVID-19 pandemic incidents in hospitals, with regular incident reports made to health staff inside and outside the hospital. After reviewing incidents, lessons are incorporated into security management practices and staff education and training.

    Pettigrew said: “The report is a must. It is essential reading for governments, healthcare employers, and other stakeholders such as the media and healthcare consumers. It is a wake-up call for all countries to do better. Understand how violence is affecting their health care workforce and the quality of services, so they can take action to stop it.”

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