Nurses support bill targeting healthcare worker violence

Nurses are assaulted more often than police officers and prison guards, says Kelly-Williams.
Nurses are assaulted more often than police officers and prison guards, says Kelly-Williams.

A state bill in Massachusetts geared toward preventing healthcare workplace violence has garnered support from nursing advocates.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association announced its support of the bill, which would require healthcare providers to develop and implement programs to prevent workplace violence, specifically incidents involving patients or their family members. 

“Acts of violence against healthcare workers occur at a rate five times greater than the average worker in our country,” MNA president Donna Kelly-Williams said in July during a hearing at the Boston State House. 

The bill calls for healthcare employers to perform an annual risk assessment of factors that put employees at risk of workplace assaults, such as working in high-crime locations or working in an area where a patient or resident may exhibit violent behavior. 

Under the bill, facilities would also have to create an in-house crisis response team.

Massachusetts is among the states imposing increased fines for assaults against nurses. 

While there is no federal standard requiring workplace violence protections, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and Oregon currently require employers to run workplace violence educational programs. New York has a similar requirement, but only for public employers.