Proposed Ohio law would help protect doctors, nurses from violence

H.B. 452 proposes hospitals create security plans, workplace violence incident reporting system.

Credit: Ty Greenlees

Credit: Ty Greenlees

Health care jobs are among the top where nonfatal workplace violence takes place, and to address this, a local lawmaker wants Ohio hospitals to create security plans to protect workers and report violence incidents.

“Imagine, at 26 weeks pregnant, being slammed into a wall by a patient you’re trying to help in an emergency,” said State Rep. Andrea White, R-Kettering in her testimony for a proposed Ohio bill. White introduced the bill with state Rep. Rachel Baker, D-Cincinnati.

There were 37,060 nonfatal injuries in the workplace in 2020 resulting from an intentional injury by another person, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Service jobs made up about half of those incidents, and health care practitioners and technical occupations made up about 23% of the remaining cases.

Every day, health care workers face moral and physical injuries, pushing many out of their profession, the Ohio Nurses Association said.

“Rep. White’s proposed legislation tackles an important and challenging issue for health care workers,” said Sarah Hackenbracht, president and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association.

Approximately 91% of emergency physicians said they, or a colleague, were a victim of violence in the past year, according to a January poll of members of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

In a 2022 survey from the same organization, 85% of emergency physicians said they believed the rate of violence experienced in emergency departments had increased over the past five years. About 45% indicated violence had greatly increased, and the survey indicated nearly all of the assaults were committed by patients.

H.B. 452 introduces critical protections for the health care workforce, the Ohio Nurses Association said, such as mandatory security plans and standards against aggression.

The proposed legislation in H.B. 452 would require hospitals to establish a security plan for preventing workplace violence and managing aggressive behaviors. The plans would need to be submitted to the Ohio Department of Health and be reviewed and evaluated annually.

In addition, the bill would require hospitals to form a workplace violence incident reporting system, as well as to post a notice that aggressive behavior would not be tolerated.

In 2021, hospitals in the Dayton region partnered with nursing leaders and the EMS community to survey frontline staff and employees about violence in the workplace, Hackenbracht said.

“The results of that survey, along with the reality of providing care during and after a global pandemic, continue to guide our shared efforts to take actionable steps that reduce incidents of violence against health care workers,” Hackenbracht said.

The efforts include continued investments in hospital campus safety and security for patients, staff and employees, she said, citing similar efforts to those in the hospital safety bill.

H.B. 452 is currently in the House Public Health Policy Committee.

By the numbers

  • 85% Emergency physicians who believe the rate of violence experienced in emergency departments has increased over the past five years.
  • 45% Emergency physicians who indicated it has greatly increased.
  • 66% Emergency physicians who reported being assaulted during a 12-month period between 2021-2022.

Source: 2022 survey from the American College of Emergency Physicians.

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