CHA News Article

Report Examines Cost of Community Violence on Health Care Security, Other Operations

A new report from the American Hospital Association finds that hospitals and health systems spent an estimated $2.7 billion addressing community violence in 2016. Specifically, the study estimates that facilities spent $1.1 billion on security and training to prevent violence in hospitals; $852 million caring for victims of violence; $429 million on medical care, staffing, indemnity and other costs related to violence against employees; and $280 million on preparedness and prevention. The figures in this report are based on data from a number of public and private sources, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. In developing these figures, the study’s authors included only costs that were not directly reimbursed by patients or third parties; although hospitals provided a significant amount of medical treatment for victims of violence, these figures only reflect the portion of those costs that was borne by the hospital as community benefit, underpayment or bad debt.

It is also important to note that the report, which based its analysis of the costs related to preparing for and preventing workplace violence on financial statements from 178 California hospitals, significantly understates total investments. For example, the study assumed that a team of one hospital administrator, one doctor and three nurses spending 40 hours each year could design a health care workplace violence prevention plan in compliance with the new California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) health care workplace violence prevention regulations. However, California hospitals that have begun this process recognize that it requires significantly more time and resources. Similarly, the study assumed that only emergency department physicians and nurses would receive training, while the new regulation requires various levels of training for all employees. 

Despite the lack of accurate data available to the authors, the report’s message is important and highlights the significant work hospitals are undertaking to mitigate violence in the workplace and the community. For more information and resources related to the Cal/OSHA workplace violence prevention regulations that went into effect on April 1, 2017, visit www.calhospital.org/workplace-violence-prevention

Commands