Employee rights and safety units to be established to ensure hospital safety

Members of the İstanbul Doctors’ Chamber recently staged a protest in İstanbul following an escalation of violence against healthcare providers in Turkish hospitals. (Photo: Today's Zaman)

May 14, 2012, Monday/ 17:53:00

The Health Ministry will establish employee benefits and safety units at hospitals to ensure the safety and rights of medical personnel who are frequently subjected to violence by patients and the relatives of patients.

New security measures are set to kick into gear after a number of attacks on hospital staff in recent weeks. In order to prevent what appears to be escalating violence against healthcare providers in hospitals in Turkey, the Health Ministry issued a circular on Monday that outlines new measures to ensure the safety of medical personnel working in hospitals across the country.

According to the circular, employee rights and safety units will be established at hospitals and oral health centers. These units will be under the authority of the deputy chief physician of each healthcare institution and will be easily accessible to all healthcare providers at the institution. The units will hear, assess and document any requests and complaints by healthcare personnel. They will be responsible for taking any measures deemed necessary based on these requests and complaints. The units will also have to report back to those who file requests or complaints and monitor closely all issues regarding the rights and wellbeing of the healthcare personnel working at the institution.

Hospitals will start to use “code white”, a standardized code alert system that makes it easier to respond to incidents in which patients or the relatives of the patients become violent or display threatening behavior towards staff, other patients or anyone else in the building.

Code white is announced following attempts to de-escalate a situation perceived by medical personnel as threatening or immediately if the safety of health personnel is compromised. The main objectives of the code are to preserve the safety of the staff, patients and other building occupants; to communicate an episode of violence to the nearest security officers working in the building; and to assist persons displaying violence in regaining control of their behavior.

The circular also states that protective security measures will be increased in some areas of hospitals, such as medical examination rooms, observation rooms and emergency rooms as well as on hospital grounds. Hospital security guards and police officers will patrol the inside of hospitals to protect medical staff. According to the circular, the police or other law enforcement authorities such as gendarmerie officers will be able to take action against patients or the relatives of patients who verbally or physically attack hospital staff without waiting for a complaint to be filed by the victim.

The Health Ministry will also provide legal assistance to victims of any such attacks. All security measures and investigations will be carried out without interrupting the provision of healthcare services at hospitals.

Security cameras will be installed at strategic points in hospitals that will not disrupt patient privacy. Camera footage will be regularly checked by security teams. If any suspicious situation or person is identified, security officers will be able to take the necessary protective measures. Individuals educated in handling angry patients and patients’ relatives and who have advanced communications skills will be on hand in waiting rooms to calm any violent individuals.

The circular also states that healthcare personnel who are subjected to a violent attack will have the right to deny their services if a request to do so is approved by the deputy chief physician and will not endanger the lives of emergency patients. Any violent attacks against medical staff will be reported immediately to the relevant security or legal units through the 112 emergency number by the hospital administration.

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