After attack on nurse, Ochsner CEO advocates for making healthcare violence a felony

Warner Thomas, president and CEO of New Orleans-based Ochsner Health, is calling for more workplace violence prevention efforts after a nurse was attacked Jan. 28 at one of the health system's hospitals, according to a statement shared with Becker's.

Mr. Thomas emphasized the importance of the safety and security of healthcare workers and patients, while speaking against workplace violence, whether it's physical, verbal, nonverbal or emotional.

"Workplace violence against healthcare workers has been escalating throughout the pandemic and has reached a point that legislation needs to be considered to make this violence a felony," the CEO said. "This consideration under review by a Louisiana task force comes as U.S. hospitals grapple with an increase in disruptive or violent incidents in hospitals — many involving hostile visitors — adding further stress to the healthcare workplace."

Mr. Thomas' comments followed a reported attack on an intensive care nurse Jan. 28.

The nurse was attacked by a patient's family member at Ochsner Medical Center – West Bank in Gretna, La., the hospital said in its statement.

A spokesperson with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office told Jan. 30 that no arrests had been made and authorities were investigating.

Mr. Thomas said Ochsner is working with authorities on their investigation and will "press charges against the assailant to the full extent of the law." 

He also said Ochsner has dispatched additional security officers and police detail and is focused on providing counseling services and additional support to workers.

"We would like to thank our employees who acted swiftly in a challenging and stressful situation and started emergency protocols," he said.

Violence against healthcare workers is a subject recently highlighted by various healthcare organizations, which are asking patients to show kindness and patience to staff. Earlier in January, a man was charged with the attempted murder of two employees who were injured by an individual inside of Novant Health's New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, N.C.

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