Hospitals are not typically places where one expects to encounter a lot of violence. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that intentional violence against hospital employees is increasing and happens at a higher rate than the majority of private businesses. Their 2015 study, the most recent information available, shows that there were 8.5 injury cases per 10,000 full-time hospital workers, compared to 1.5 cases for all private businesses.
The majority of violence against hospital employees is directed towards nurses. They have the most interactions with patients and are incredibly vulnerable to attack. While the majority of nursing injuries are minor, there are instances where severe personal injury can occur.
A recent example took place in May at the Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva, Illinois where two nurses were taken hostage by a Kane County jail inmate. He stole a gun from the corrections officer guarding him and sexually assaulted one of the nurses before being fatally shot by the police.
Stories like this are happening all across the country, and many nurses are demanding additional staffing and training to help combat hospital violence. Nurses suffering from critical, patient-caused injuries have a number of legal options at their disposal, and it is important that they retain the services of a professional attorney who can help determine the appropriate course of action.
Protecting Hospital Employees Against Violence in California
Although hospital violence remains a headache for California nurses, state officials took steps to remedy the problem by passing legislation that many view as a model for the rest of the nation. The law tackles several pressing issues including the reporting of violent acts, staff training, and correcting violence hazards like substandard staffing levels.
Regulators from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health approved the law in 2016, citing added employee participation as an important step towards improving hospital safety standards. The Cal/OSHA rules cover private healthcare facilities in the state and are more vigorous than the previous set of guidelines.
It is important to note that California employers are not held liable for every violent act taken against a worker. For example, if a mass shooting takes place at a healthcare facility, the institution housing the attack could avoid any damage claims that would ruin their reputation. However, a hospital would be cited, and vulnerable to a personal injury suit, if a workplace injury happened and the new rules were not properly followed.
While hospitals are the main focus of this legislation, other health-related facilities including local clinics, drug treatment programs, and home healthcare settings are required to adhere to the new regulations. The law does a good job of covering substantial ground and helps make sure that nurses are better protected in a variety of professional environments.
Ensuring the Safety of California Healthcare Professionals
Even with new safety standards, California nurses are still susceptible to workplace violence at higher rates than other healthcare professionals. No amount of legislation can stop accidents 100% of the time, and there will be moments where catastrophic personal injuries occur on the job. If you have experienced a serious personal injury because of a violent patient, and live in Pasadena, California or the surrounding area, you should contact Strassburg, Gilmore, & Wei, Attorneys at Law and figure out how to move forward with your case.