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RNs Welcome Gov. Brown’s Approval of CNA-Backed Bill to Step Up Hospital Violence Prevention

California Nurses Association Press Release, 9/29/14

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The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United late Monday enthusiastically praised the decision of California Governor Jerry Brown to sign a CNA-sponsored bill that will dramatically step up efforts to prevent workplace violence in California hospitals.

 SB 1299, the Healthcare Workplace Violence Prevention Act by Senator Alex Padilla, will require California hospitals to adopt workplace violence prevention plans to assess and mitigate factors that contribute to violence in the hospital. The bill also requires hospitals to document and report incidents of violence to Cal/OSHA. 

 “At a time when we have seen far too many disturbing incidents of violence in California health facilities, this legislation will go a long way to assuring a safe and healing environment for patients, families, visitors, and RNs and other hospital staff,” said CNA Co-President Deborah Burger, RN.

 Perhaps the most important element of the bill, noted Burger, is that rather than just impose additional penalties on perpetrators of violence, many of whom many also be affected by inadequate mental health services, the focus is prevention – working to set in place proper staff training and mitigation factors to stop violence before it occurs.

“This bill says all hospitals must have a zero tolerance policy for lax standards that put anyone in a hospital setting at potential risk, will set uniform standards that put safety as a top priority, and makes it clear that safer standards is a top responsibility for every hospital in California,” Burger said.

 US Labor Bureau Statistics show that healthcare workers, and RNs in particular, are five times more likely to be the victim of an assault or violent act by another person, than a worker in another industry and nearly 75 percent of these violent acts are by a resident or a patient in the facility.

 The inadequacy of current hospital security policies and the need for stronger industry oversight was underscored, when two nurses were stabbed in separate incidents in hospitals in Los Angeles County this spring. But there have been other less widely reported incidents in hospitals across the state, CNA notes.

 In 2007 a report commissioned by the National Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health found that nurses have the highest rate of victimization among occupations in the healthcare industry. The report also found training and security systems in California hospitals, in particular, to be woefully inadequate. 

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