A Disturbing Trend: Violence Against Health Care Workers

A Disturbing Trend: Violence Against Health Care Workers

There’s no denying health care workers have some of the toughest jobs out there. With demands on their physical, mental and emotional strength, it’s a profession that asks a lot of people. Unfortunately, many health care professionals also experience workplace violence, including assaults by patients or patient families, as well as verbal abuse.

A March 2018 shooting at a Yountville, Calif., veterans home—where three employees and caretakers were killed by a former patient—makes it clear just how serious an issue this has become. According to the American Nurses Association, one in four nurses is assaulted at work – a rate higher than police officers and prison guards. And the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that between 2002-2013, serious incidents of workplace violence were four times as likely in healthcare as in other private industries.  

Are Healthcare Workers Protected?

While OSHA regulates many other hazards in the healthcare workplace such as the handling of chemicals and drugs, there are no federal regulations to protect healthcare professionals from violence. OSHA does have voluntary guidelines, but hospitals and other healthcare facilities don’t actually have to put these into place. Even the language of the OSHA guidelines calls them “advisory in nature,” “informational in content,” and states they don’t “create new legal obligations.”

Our caretaker professionals deserve better. Some states have stiffer consequences for people convicted of assaulting a healthcare worker. Advocates are pushing for states to adopt tougher standards that hold hospitals and healthcare facilities accountable. Of course, many facilities are already working to keep their employees and patients safe through training, improved security and other means. Violence prevention and de-escalation plans can make a significant difference for many workers and for the patients they treat. However, the lack of tougher oversight means violent incidents are still widespread in the industry.  

Speaking Up for a Safe Workplace

It’s also time to speak up and to stop treating workplace abuse like it’s part of the job. It’s sadly common for healthcare workers to report physical violence and see  little action from their employers. Or to not even bother reporting verbal abuse, assuming it is too common to warrant attention.

If you’ve been affected by workplace violence at your healthcare job or otherwise injured on the job, you may have a workers’ compensation case. Abuse isn’t a normal part of any job. You deserve compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages if you were unable to work.

The attorneys at Buzzell, Graham & Welsh are experts in workers’ compensation cases. We’ll make sure your employer treats your injury with the seriousness it deserves. Contact the Macon workers’ compensation attorneys at Buzzell, Graham & Welsh for your free consultation today.