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States addressing more violence against health care workers

Posted On: Feb. 27, 2024 11:12 AM CST

health care violence

At least 29 states have passed or are looking to enact legislation that allows health care facilities to establish independent police forces to address a rising tide of violence against health care workers, according to a research report published Thursday by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Health care workers are disproportionately at risk for workplace violence compared with other workers, and the increase in incidents is part of a broader trend of rising health care worker violence over the past decade, the report states.

Possible reasons behind the violence increase include patients’ frustration with health care costs, limited treatment options and wait times.

State legislatures are approaching the issue by either increasing punishment for perpetrators or by mandating that health care facilities implement prevention measures designed to improve workplace safety, the report states.

The states considering allowing facilities to create their independent police forces say the proposals arose because of health care workers’ direct demands and lobbying by hospital systems.

“States are aware of the rising violence against health care workers and have taken steps to respond, focusing on both preventing violence before it happens and on increased penalties for attacks after they occur,” the report states.

The report says that states are stepping in since Congress has yet to take any action on the issue.