Effectiveness of Conducted Electrical Weapons to Prevent Violence-Related Injuries in the Hospital

Joshua J. Gramling, Patricia M. McGovern, Timothy R. Church, Nancy M. Nachreiner, Joseph E. Gaugler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: Health care workers suffer higher rates of violence-related injuries than workers in other industries, with hospital security officers and ED personnel at particularly high risk for injury. Arming hospital security workers with conducted electrical weapons, such as tasers, has been suggested as an intervention to decrease violence-related injuries in the hospital. Methods: A retrospective cohort of all security and ED nursing staff at an urban level 1 trauma center was identified from human resources data for the period 4 years before and 7 years after security workers were armed with conducted electrical weapons. A violence-related rate of injury was calculated as all violence-related injuries incurred by each employee for the numerator and the productive hours worked by each person during the study period as the denominator. Results: The hospital employed approximately 30 security staff and 200 nursing staff at the time, with a total of 98 security officers and 468 nursing staff members over the 11 years of study. During the total nursing study period, 98 security officers contributed 452,901 hours; 265 registered nurses from the emergency department contributed 1,535,044 hours; and 203 health care assistants contributed 624,805 hours. Security officers’ violence-related rate of injury was 13 times higher than that of the nursing staff. The risk ratio was 1.0 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.7–1.4) between the 2 examination periods for security officers, with similar results for nurses. However, among security workers, the cost of the injuries decreased in the period after implementation. Conclusion: Carrying conducted electrical weapons by hospital security staff appears to have limited capacity to decrease overall rates of violence-related injury but may decrease the severity of violence-related injuries. The latter could decease costs to health care organizations as well as morbidity of injured staff. Contribution to Emergency Nursing Practice • Violence-related injuries in health care—particularly in the emergency department—are of great concern. There is, therefore, a pressing need for evidence-based approaches to decrease rates of injury. High-risk workers lack information on the effectiveness of possible interventions that could reduce the risk of violence-related injuries. More hospitals are arming their security workers with tools of law enforcement to prevent violent injuries. This is the first study to examine whether the use of one of those tools—conducted electrical weapons—reduces the risk of injury.• Emergency nurses need to be aware of the potential for security officers’ tools to prevent serious injury.• Although the study findings do not demonstrate a decrease in the overall rates of violence-related injuries to hospital staff after security officers began carrying conducted electrical weapons, the severity of violence-related injuries may have been reduced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-257
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Emergency Nursing
Volume44
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2018

Keywords

  • Conducted electrical weapons (CEWs)
  • Health care injuries
  • Hospital safety
  • Injury prevention
  • Occupational
  • Workplace violence

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