RN-Backed Bill to Step Up Hospital Violence Prevention Takes Big Step in Passing Senate
Capping Week of Major Legislative Advances for RNs
A bill to step up efforts to prevent workplace violence in California hospitals took a major step forward today by winning approval in the California State Senate, making it the third significant legislation sponsored by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United to win approval over the last two days.
SB 1299, the Healthcare Workplace Violence Prevention Act introduced by Senator Alex Padilla, would require that hospitals establish workplace violence prevention plans including strong personnel education and planning programs and systems 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.
“California hospitals need to do more to assure a safe and healing environment for patients, families, visitors, and RNs and other hospital staff. This bill would be a major advance in requiring uniform standards that put safety as a top priority,” said CNA Co-President Deborah Burger, RN.
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 last month.
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.
Landmark bill to protect patient choice passes Assembly
Two other bills sponsored by the California Nurses Association won approval from the California Assembly Wednesday. AB 2533, introduced by Tom Ammiano, would protect the ability of Californians to seek medical care from the providers of their choice by restricting higher charges for patients who get medical care outside their insurance provider “network."
AB 2533 also directly addresses a growing national scandal of insurers who while entering the new health exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act have set even tighter network restrictions than existed in non-exchange plans. Many Californians in particular have found that private insurance plans they signed up for through Covered California excluded major hospitals in the state.
AB 2616, introduced by Assembly member Nancy Skinner, would extend presumptive eligibility for worker’s comp for any hospital employees who contract the aggressive, virulent antibiotic resistance staph infection commonly known as MRSA.
Under current law, a number of workplace injuries qualify for presumption of eligibility for workers’ comp for public safety personnel, but only for police, firefighters and some other safety personnel who are predominantly male. AB 2616 would extend that eligibility to RNs and other hospital employees who are predominantly women.