Workplace violence Health Care Workers

De-escalating aggression in health care settings: Accreditation group publishes advisory


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Oakbrook Terrace, IL — Citing the prevalence of patient assaults on health care staff, accreditation organization The Joint Commission has issued a “Quick Safety” advisory aimed at limiting conditions that may spark aggression and violence in health care settings.

Published Jan. 29, De-escalation in health care references a recent American Journal of Nursing study that found that 25 percent of nurses reported being assaulted by patients or a patient’s family members. Incidents were more likely to occur in emergency departments and geriatric and psychiatric environments during the three-year period studied, the report states.


The advisory recommends health care workers:

  • Use clear and calm verbal communication, speaking with patients in a non-confrontational manner while avoiding health care terminology.
  • Display calm body language and approach patients with respect.
  • Respond to patients’ problems or conditions to establish trust.
  • Set clear limits for patients.
  • Minimize lighting, noise and loud conversations.
  • Use risk assessment tools for early detection and intervention.

Additionally, the advisory urges health care organizations to train staff on de-escalation strategies. It offers information about identifying aggressiveness and using de-escalation and intervention models explored in various studies.

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