National Nurses United says that the legislation 'will save so many lives.'
National Nurses United (NNU) and the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) are among the healthcare workers backing the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, introduced this week by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT).
The bill, co-sponsored by four Republicans and three Democrats, would direct the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an enforceable national standard requiring healthcare and social services employers to develop and implement workplace violence prevention plans within 42 months to protect nurses, physicians, social workers, emergency responders, and others.
"We applaud Rep. Courtney for introducing this critical legislation that will save so many lives," said NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN. "Studies have shown that having a plan in place to stop healthcare workplace violence before it happens reduces incidents of violence—and yet, there is no federal requirement for healthcare employers to have a prevention plan. Now, in the midst of the deadliest pandemic of our lifetimes, it's more clear than ever before that we can't afford to lose one more nurse or healthcare worker. We urge Congress to swiftly pass Rep. Courtney's bill."
ENA President Ron Kraus, MSN, RN, EMT, CEN, TCRN, ACNS-BC, described the legislation as "important and timely," given the prevalence of attacks on emergency nurses.
Courtney previously introduced similar legislation in February 2019. It passed the House by a 251-158 vote, but never came up for a vote in the Senate.
"Healthcare and social workers have been waiting for years, long before COVID-19, to have their safety taken seriously while they're working hard to ensure everyone else's," Courtney said in a press release. "Our nurses and healthcare professionals face more on-the-job violence than any other sector in the American economy and the rates have been on the rise for years, even during the COVID-19 crisis. These incidents are predictable and preventable, and it's time we ensure workplaces take the steps that we know work to avoid them."
About three-quarters of U.S. workplace assaults occur in healthcare settings, according to OSHA, and it's been particularly dangerous as of late. A day after the legislation was introduced, a patient being treated at a Pennsylvania hospital severely injured a doctor by stabbing her in the face and head; one person was killed and four injured two weeks ago when a shooter opened fire at the Allina Health clinic in Buffalo, Minnesota; and more than half of Texas nurses reported being subject to workplace violence in their career, a 2016 state study says.
“These incidents are predictable and preventable, and it's time we ensure workplaces take the steps that we know work to avoid them.”
Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT)
Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.
Nurses and healthcare professionals face more on-the-job violence than any other sector in the American economy, said Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), who introduced a bill to address the issue.
The bill directs OSHA to issue an enforceable national standard within 42 months.
Similar legislation, introduced in 2019, passed the House by a 251-158 vote but never came up for a vote in the Senate.