Violence, zero tolerance and the subversion of professional practice

Holmes, Colin (2006) Violence, zero tolerance and the subversion of professional practice. Contemporary Nurse, 21 (2). pp. 212-227.

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Assaults on health care staff have been a fact of life since the earliest years of organised health services, but it is only in recent years that governments have begun to acknowledge the problem. Assaults not only inflict physical and emotional injury, but undermine morale, create a climate of fear, and subvert the quality of care. They are also costly in terms of lost labour, compensation, and legal and procedural expenses. The response to violence in health care settings has thus far ranged from what might be called the 'Ostrich position', in which it is simply ignored, to training in self-defence, the deployment of security staff in clinical areas, conflict resolution training and, more recently, the policy of 'zero tolerance'. This paper examines the rationale for zero tolerance policies, drawing on their origins and applications in the United States and Britain. It suggests that zero tolerance is an ineffective response to violence in health care settings, and its adoption by authorities in Australia should be rejected. It is further argued, that resource allocation and marginalisation are identifiable and modifiable factors contributing to violence in our health care systems.

Item ID: 3962
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1037-6178
Keywords: ethics; healthcare; professionalism; violence; zero tolerance
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2009 03:34
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1110 Nursing > 111099 Nursing not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920210 Nursing @ 100%
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