Dallas shooting of two health care workers highlights need for workplace violence prevention bill
The tragic loss of two health care workers, including one nurse, in Dallas, Texas, who were killed on Saturday at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, demonstrates the importance of passing the pending workplace violence prevention legislation in the U.S. Senate, noted National Nurses United (NNU) today. This bill would provide substantial safety protections for our nation’s health care workers, patients, and their families.
“We mourn the devastating loss of a nurse and a health care worker and offer our deepest condolences to their families and colleagues at Methodist Dallas Medical Center,” said NNU President Jean Ross, RN. “No one should lose their life because they went to work. Health care settings should be places of healing, not harm.This unimaginable tragedy is a stark reminder that workplace violence in the health care industry is increasing and that we urgently need legislative action to ensure the safety of our caregivers, other health care staff, and every patient or family member in those facilities.”
The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (S. 4182), currently cosponsored by 35 senators, would mandate that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) create a federal standard requiring health care and social service employers to develop and implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan. S. 4182, sponsored by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), is a companion to H.R. 1195, which passed the House of Representatives in a strong bipartisan vote in April 2021.
This legislation is especially important given that health care and social service workers face extremely high rates of workplace violence, noted NNU. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, RNs in private industry in the United States experienced a rate of 18.2 violence-related injuries per 10,000 full-time employees. The injury rate for RNs is more than four times higher than the violence-related injuries for workers overall in the same year.
A recent NNU national survey of more than 2,500 hospital nurses found that the proportion of hospital nurses reporting a recent increase in workplace violence has more than doubled in the past year. In April 2022, nearly half of RNs (48 percent) reported a small or significant increase in workplace violence, up from 21.9 percent in a March 2021 survey.
Between 2011 and 2020, as reported in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, at least 80 hospital workers died as a result of violence in their workplaces. In 2016, the Government Accountability Office found that health care workers at inpatient facilities were five to 12 times more likely to experience nonfatal workplace violence than workers overall.
National Nurses United is the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the United States with nearly 225,000 members nationwide.