Colorado considers bill to protect healthcare workers from violence

A bill in the Colorado Legislature aims to prevent workplace violence in certain healthcare settings.

The bill, introduced Jan. 10, includes two acts: one applicable to hospitals, freestanding emergency departments, nursing care facilities, assisted living residences and federally qualified health centers, and another applicable to comprehensive community behavioral health providers, according to a summary of the legislation.

The summary states that both acts would require facilities to develop and regularly review a workplace violence prevention plan; that plan must be enforced and updated. They also would be required to submit workplace violence incident reports to state officials twice each year, as applicable; and if a workplace violence incident occurs, facilities must offer post-incident services to affected workers.

Additionally, under the bill, healthcare facilities may not discourage workers from contacting or filing a report with law enforcement. Retaliation, discipline and discrimination are also prohibited against individuals who report workplace violence in good faith.

The bill comes amid anecdotal evidence as well as data pointing to rising rates of violence against healthcare workers. 

The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in 2022, private industry employers reported 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses. If illnesses are removed, the healthcare and social services industry recorded 443,800 nonfatal injuries — the highest of any industry. 

Hospitals, health systems and states across the U.S. are making efforts to address the issue. These efforts range from a new code of conduct policy to legislation that increases penalties for people convicted of battery of a healthcare provider.

Colorado's bill includes best practices from other states while allowing leaders at facilities to have flexibility with their own workplace violence prevention plans, Colleen Casper, DNP, RN, executive director of the Colorado Nurses Association, told The Denver Post

The bill history on the Legislature's website shows the bill was assigned to the House Health and Human Services Committee.

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