February 3, 2022

Better protection for HCWs against workplace violence making legal headway

Editor's Note

Workplace violence against healthcare workers (HCWs) is a sensitive, important issue that has been more prevalent in recent years given the high-stakes of the COVID-19 pandemic. HCWs have been making headlines for fighting against both the pandemic and the rising tensions from a strung out populate and overwhelmed workforce.

As the February 2 Becker’s Hospital Review reports, the renewed spotlight is also making waves among state legislators, who have reportedly started “introducing bills to protect healthcare staff.” Here are states that have made some legal headway:

  • Louisiana: Calls for state legislature to make violence against HCWs a felony rose after a nurse was recently attacked at an Ochsner Health hospital in New Orleans.
  • Oregon: House Bill 4142, which would make it a crime of assault in the third degree for someone to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly physically injure a HCW performing official duties, is being considered by the House Committee on Judiciary.
  • Utah: On February 1, the state House passed House Bill 32, which would enhance penalties for assault or threat of violence against HCWs performing their duties to a class A misdemeanor, or to a third-degree felony if the perpetrator attacks intentionally or knowingly and "causes substantial bodily injury." The legislation will now be considered by the state Senate.
  • Michigan: Two bills have been introduced—House Bill 5682 and House Bill 5084—which more clearly delineate misdemeanor punishments for violence against emergency room workers performing official duties and allow for employers to post signage saying that assault on an emergency room employee at work is a felony, respectively.
  • Maryland: House Bill 0267 is being considered, “which would make it illegal for someone to threaten a public health official with the intent to intimidate, interfere, or impede that worker from fulfilling official duties.” The bill is sponsored by 10 state delegates.

OR Manager has sought to educate and report on healthcare workplace violence, at both hospital ORs and ambulatory surgery centers, for years. For the most recent stories, see OR Manager’s 2021 2-part series on mitigating workplace violence here and here; 2019 article on protecting ASC workers; and 2017 article on knowing the risks of workplace violence.

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