Is the patient potentially harmful? Use Words That Work

Asante’s Workplace Violence Prevention team offers communication tips.

Words That Work is a useful communication strategy for dealing with tense situations. Asante’s Workplace Violence Prevention Program now offers scripting for staff faced with violent or harmful patients who may have been “flagged” in Epic and a sign (pictured below) posted on their door. The language uses the RELATE acronym as a guide.

  • “My name is _____. My role is _____. Here is how I provide you with excellent, safe care: _____.”
  • “Safety is our top priority.”
  • “It is important that we keep all our patients and staff as safe as possible.”
  • “Violent behaviors put caregivers at risk.”
  • “The sign allows all people who work with you to provide a consistent approach to create safety for everyone.”
  • “I understand it looks like some patients are being treated differently than you.” (Avoid arguing or taking an “us vs. them” approach.)
  • If a visitor asks about the door sign: “It is our responsibility to be calm and professional with patients even if their medical needs create unsafe situations. The sign reminds everyone to have heightened awareness for safety.”
  • “What questions do you have?”
  • “Great question. I am glad you asked.”
  • Address other questions or concerns using RELATE and Words That Work. Avoid using stigmatizing language and sharing HIPPA patient information on violence history.
Take action
  • Escalate up the chain of command if you need support in the moment. If the patient insists on the sign being removed, this can be done by upper leadership.
Express appreciation
  • “Thank you for helping us keep everyone safe.”
  • “Thank you for your understanding.”
  • “Thank you for your patience.”
Tags: clinic, door sign, flag, hospital, patient, Workplace Violence Prevention
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If you have a question, please contact the author or relevant department directly.

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