BRANSON, Mo. – Cox Medical Center in Branson will soon be implementing panic buttons for staff members who work with the public. The facility has seen an uptick in violence within the last year and hospital data shows that the number of assaults have tripled.
According to officials, assaults that led to injury increased from 42.5 percent to 63 percent.
In 2014, a married couple attempted a double-suicide inside a Cox South hospital room in Springfield. The male, who was a Cox patient, passed away from his self-inflicted wound. The female shot herself twice in the chest, but underwent immediate surgery and survived.
Due to a similar increase in workplace violence, Cox South in Springfield began using panic button devices in 2020. After receiving a $132,000 grant from the Skaggs Foundation, Cox Branson is migrating the panic buttons to their location and hopes to have an ample number of devices by 2022.
“Working in the emergency department, a lot of times our patients are becoming increasingly violent lately,” Cox Branson nurse Ashley Blevins told NBC. “So, it’s nice that we have the chance to press our button and security knows exactly where we are. And if we end up having to chase a patient down, they know where our last location is.”
Blevins also said that within the last year, she had been verbally harassed, spit on and even physically attacked.
From 2002 to 2013, “serious” violent crimes were four times more common within the healthcare system than in private industries, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Roughly 300 to 400 staff members in high risk areas of the hospital will receive a panic button device on their work badge. If a worker feels distressed, a press of the button automatically activates a personal tracing system, notifies security and sends a pop-up alert on hospital computers to show the worker’s exact location. If the button is pressed from inside a hospital room, it will activate a special light on the outside of the room and a tone will alert nearby nursing stations.