Healthcare workers push law protecting them from workplace violence

Physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers are not satisfied with hospital efforts to combat workplace violence against them and are demanding more, Kaiser Health News reports.

That's why they're backing legislation that would put the responsibility on hospitals to protect them.

Healthcare workers routinely face potential for workplace violence, and the issue has gotten worse in recent years. Between 2002 and 2013, incidents of workplace violence in  healthcare  were four times more common, on average, than in private industry overall, according to data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration

And a poll of more than 3,500 emergency physicians from last year found that 47 percent of emergency physicians report having been physically assaulted at work, with 60 percent saying those assaults occurred in the last year.

Cleveland Clinic CEO Tom Mihaljevic, MD, even went so far as to call the situation an "epidemic" during his annual State of the Clinic speech in February.

"There is a very fundamental problem in U.S. healthcare that very few people speak about, and that's the violence against healthcare workers. Daily, literally daily, we're exposed to violent outbursts, in particular in our emergency rooms," he said.

Hospitals such as Cleveland Clinic have voluntarily enacted safety measures to fight violence against healthcare staff, including metal detectors in the emergency department, wireless panic buttons incorporated into ID badges and safety cameras, according to KHN.

But now there's proposed federal legislation that would address the issue. 

The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers, introduced in Congress Nov. 16, would require healthcare employers to create a workplace violence prevention plan to help curtail violence against workers. OSHA would oversee the implementation of these plans.

The initiative is backed by the National Nurses United labor group.


More articles on workforce: 

NYC Health + Hospitals launches its first nurse recruitment campaign
Another round: Massachusetts union tries again on nurse staffing ratios
New York health system has more than 200 nursing openings

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