MHA Testifies on Bills Designed to Protect Healthcare Workers from On-the-job Assaults
Posted on April 25, 2019
The MHA on April 23 provided testimony at a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee in support of legislation that would increase penalties for assaulting healthcare workers, in addition to reclassifying such crimes from misdemeanors to felonies. Lisa Glass, a patient care assistant from Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, Grand Rapids, also shared her personal experience as the victim of on-the-job violence as part of the testimony provided by Trinity Health in support of the bills.
House Bills (HBs) 4327 and 4328, both of which are sponsored by Rep. Hank Vaupel (R-Fowlerville), would extend to healthcare workers and medical volunteers the same protections against physical assault currently in place for assaults against first responders, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, people engaged in search-and-rescue operations and emergency service personnel, among others. The penalties apply when assaults occur during the course of duty, which would also be the case with the proposed bills for healthcare workers.
In April 2018, The Joint Commission issued a Sentinel Event Alert to address the growing issue of physical and verbal violence against healthcare workers, which is so pervasive that some within the healthcare industry refer to the issue as an epidemic. According to data from the Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA), healthcare workers were nearly four times more likely on average to experience violence than those working in other industries. The OSHA data also revealed that violence against healthcare workers is vastly underreported for a variety of reasons; but among the reported events, physical assaults, hitting, kicking, beating and/or shoving were the most common causes of violent injuries resulting in days away from work. In 2013, OSHA found that 80% of serious violent incidents in healthcare settings were caused by interactions with patients, while other incidents were caused by visitors, coworkers or other people.
HBs 4327 and 4328 are not viewed as a “magic bullet” when it comes to making the workplace safer for healthcare and medical personnel. Rather, the legislation is viewed as helping augment the measures hospitals are currently using to keep workers safe on the job, including deescalation training; improved incident tracking and reporting; and changes to physical environments, work practices and administrative procedures. Members with questions should contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.
Posted in: Issues in Healthcare, Top Issues - Healthcare