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March 27, 2024

McLeod Health Partners with Fourth Circuit Solicitor

Safety events have long been a concern for hospitals and health systems. Staff, both clinical and non-clinical, often find themselves in high-stress situations with patients or visitors that sometimes turn violent, leaving staff injured or threatened.

During the pandemic, hospitals saw declines in incidents as health systems put visitor restrictions in place. Coming out of the pandemic, the number of incidents happening in hospitals, clinics, and physician offices began to rise. To better tell the story of what’s happening, how often, and in what locations, SCHA has formed a partnership with Antum Risk, a risk management and workers’ compensation provider serving hospitals in South Carolina. As this partnership grows, the data gathered by Antum Risk will inform hospitals of necessary interventions, safety practices and protocols, or policy and statutory changes.

While the data helps tell the story, hospitals are already finding effective ways to bring attention to the issue of violence and aggression in healthcare settings. McLeod Health, for instance, recently formed a partnership with local law enforcement and prosecutors to maintain an ongoing, collaborative relationship to improve incident management and response.

The partnership stemmed from a recent event at a McLeod Health facility that led to a traumatic injury of a staff member. Following that incident, hospital leadership and security reached out to the Fourth Circuit Solicitor’s Office for a roundtable discussion about how to effectively reduce these events, pursue criminal charges when appropriate, and incorporate the local magistrate and law enforcement in the hospital’s security protocols.

McLeod Health established a new review and response team that includes quality, safety, and security leaders along with the assistant solicitor. The team meets quarterly to review incidents, trends, specific cases, etc. This partnership has created awareness of this issue and meaningful steps to improve the process of prosecuting those who deliberately assault healthcare professionals.

For other hospitals considering this approach, we’ve created a conversation guide to initiate your efforts:

  1. Get to know your solicitor. This resource from the SC Judicial Branch can help you find the contact information for your solicitor. Remember that if you have multiple facilities, they may fall in multiple judicial circuits.
  2. Assemble your story. Gather stories of the actual people who have been impacted by acts of violence while at work. Gather the data as to where and how often the incidents happen. Be prepared to discuss the outcome of incidents, including the impact on staff and any charges filed (or not) against the assailants.
  3. Host a roundtable at your hospital. Invite the solicitor, local judges, law enforcement, and even locally elected officials to attend. Take them on a tour of the places where events happen most often. Lead a collaborative discussion about the impact on your staff. Ask for their help.
  4. Follow up and continue the collaboration. After the roundtable, the work is just beginning. Keep the collaboration and energy going by facilitating ongoing conversations or meetings.

Healthcare workers are five times as likely to experience workplace violence as other workers and account for roughly three-fourths of all nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses due to violence in the workplace. Addressing this issue is a top priority for SCHA as we work to educate state leaders and the public on the violent assaults that happen every day in South Carolina’s hospitals and health systems.