Healthcare professionals are four times as likely to be assaulted on the job compared to other professions, and lawmakers in Massachusetts are looking to strengthen protections for nurses and healthcare workers.
Last week, the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) endorsed bill S.765/H.795, which would strengthen penalties against assaults on healthcare workers. The MNA has called the bill Elise’s Law, in honor of Elise Wilson, a nurse that was stabbed multiple times on the job last month. The bill would increase the penalty for assaulting emergency medical technicians, ambulance operators and attendees, or healthcare providers from a misdemeanor to a felony. The bill would also streamline how victims of healthcare violence can use the justice system, making it easier to seek legal recourse for their injuries.
The bill is part of a larger effort to improve prevention and response to workplace violence in healthcare. "Health care professionals are being assaulted at a rate four times greater than those working in other industries," said Donna Kelly-Williams, RN, president of the MNA, in a press release. "Fear of violence and actual violence is rampant in Massachusetts health care facilities. An assault on a nurse is a serious action and should be taken seriously by our judicial system."
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care workers experience the most non-fatal workplace violence compared to other professionals, and account for 70% of all non-fatal workplace assaults. A survey conducted by the MNA found that 75% of nurses reported that violence was a problem in their workplace, and the Emergency Nurses Association reports that 80% of emergency department nurses have been a victim of workplace violence.
For information on how to prepare your facility for workplace violence, check out this excerpt from Preventing Workplace Violence: Handbook for Healthcare Workers.