Motorola Solutions released the results of their 2023 survey on healthcare worker safety. This survey, which included over 500 participants, provides critical insight into the unique risks and challenges that healthcare facilities and their workers face.
At a quick glance, this survey shows that the coronavirus pandemic is still significantly affecting the healthcare industry in terms of staffing and occupational safety. The data also indicates that many healthcare workers, especially nurses, are concerned about patients becoming violent. The growing shift toward home healthcare also presents new challenges, especially for lab technicians.
Not all the results are negative, however. Most respondents feel that their workplaces are well-prepared to handle fires and severe weather emergencies. Additionally, nearly half of the survey participants say that new communication technologies help them feel more prepared for emergencies.
Top healthcare worker safety threats
According to the survey, the top occupational threat reported by healthcare workers is the possibility of a patient becoming violent. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents listed this situation as their biggest work-related safety concern.
Nurses (over 85% of whom are female) were the most concerned about this risk; 81% of them listed “patients becoming violent” as their top concern. Statistics show that this is a legitimate concern; nearly half (46%) of participants said that a violent incident had occurred in their healthcare institution in the past year.
The next biggest threat to most healthcare workers was mental health, especially the effects of burnout. In fact, 61% of respondents listed this as their top work-related safety concern. After that, the following concerns were an active assailant (42%), natural disaster/severe weather (26%) and violence from coworkers (21%).
Mental health risks
Mental health is a serious concern for many healthcare workers. Participants are concerned about their own mental health and that of their patients. Over 70% of healthcare professionals said that their patients’ mental health impacts occupational safety. And over three-quarters (77%) of healthcare workers said that they’re worried about burnout and other mental health effects of staffing shortages. More than half (56%) of participants said that their own and their colleagues’ mental health was generally worse now than during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nurses are especially concerned about mental health. Nearly two-thirds (60%) of nurses said they were concerned that their coworkers’ workplace safety and well-being were affected by mental health concerns. Almost half (49%) of nurses were concerned that their own mental health affected their safety at work, and 24% of nurses reported that their mental health is “extremely worse” now than it was during the height of the pandemic.
Healthcare staffing concerns
Staffing shortages were extremely prevalent during the pandemic, and the industry still hasn’t recovered. Many healthcare professionals list staffing as the biggest challenge currently facing the profession. The ongoing prevalence of burnout and mental health challenges may continue to drive resignations among healthcare workers and prolong the staffing challenges that many hospitals, nursing homes and healthcare institutions face.
Home healthcare presents unique challenges
While the shift toward home healthcare started before the pandemic, COVID-19 definitely accelerated that change. Many providers have started offering in-home care healthcare for everything from wellness checkups to occupational and physical therapy. While these changes offer many benefits, especially to patients, healthcare workers have some concerns.
Over 40% of survey participants said they were more concerned about their personal safety when providing care at a patient’s residence compared to in a traditional healthcare setting. Lab technicians are most concerned about their safety in a home healthcare setting (67%).
Finally, many workers are confused about how to handle an emergency situation in an at-home setting. Nearly half (47%) of workers weren’t sure whether their organization had different emergency protocols for home care providers, and 16% said their employers didn’t have emergency protocols for that situation.
Improving communications to support safety
While it’s clear that healthcare providers have significant concerns about their physical and mental wellness at work, many report that they would feel safer if their employer implemented additional communication protocols. The most popular tools that healthcare workers say would help them feel safer at work were a panic button (55%), additional safety training (51%) and customized text-based alerts (48%).
Almost half (44%) of participants said that having a personal safety app would help them feel more prepared for emergency events that happen at work. Workers would also like to be able to access safety plans, especially via an app that includes resources and emergency contact information.
Motorola Solutions supports healthcare worker safety
Healthcare is a vital industry, but it’s also a field that’s facing many risks, especially when it comes to occupational safety. Participants in our 2023 healthcare worker survey listed workplace violence and mental health as top safety concerns. Many respondents were also concerned about emergency plans, especially for home healthcare situations.
Fortunately, improving communication can address many of these concerns. Mass notification systems, especially those with multichannel functionality, can ensure that healthcare workers receive critical safety information during an emergency no matter where they are.
Healthcare employers can also provide their workers with personal safety apps that include a panic button. These phone-based applications keep workers connected when they are off-duty or on a home visit, and they make it easier for healthcare providers everywhere to contact 9-1-1 in a crisis.
Rave Mobile Safety, a Motorola Solutions company, is dedicated to helping hospitals and other healthcare institutions protect their people. Our communication solutions are technologically advanced but easy to use. It just takes three clicks to send an emergency alert, and employees can use integrated two-way messaging tools to contact their managers from anywhere. We offer a range of customizable and prepackaged solutions. For more information, contact our team.