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With attacks against workers on the rise, Missouri hospital to give staff panic buttons

Hundreds of workers at a Missouri hospital will be outfitted with panic buttons, due to a rise in assaults against them.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, attacks against Cox Medical Center Branson employees have tripled, The Associated Press reports. Hospitals are already high-stress environments, something that has been compounded due to COVID-19, and staffers at medical centers across the United States have reported everything from getting screamed at to being threatened with bodily harm.

At Cox Medical Center Branson, up to 400 employees who work in emergency and inpatient hospital rooms will receive buttons to place on their identification badges. If they feel they are in an unsafe environment, the worker pushes the button, which notifies hospital security and triggers a tracking system. The hospital hopes to get the buttons distributed and operational by the end of the year.

Alan Butler, director of safety and security at Cox Medical Center Branson, said in a statement the buttons "fill a critical void." Additionally, the Missouri Hospital Association is providing training to medical center employees so they can recognize when and how to de-escalate a situation.