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The Facts

Workplace violence is a constant fear for many nurses.  Unfortunately, workplace violence against nurses, healthcare professionals and social service workers occurs with more frequency than any other.  A survey released by AMN Health Care contains answers from 20,000 registered nurses.  The survey found that 41% of nurses have been the victim of ‘bullying, incivility or other forms of workplace violence’¹.  This is a huge percentage and does not occur with this frequency in any other profession.  The new Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (HR1309) is a comprehensive bill.  It holds the organizations that employ nurses and social workers accountable for protecting their employees².  

The Bill Passes

On November 21st the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR1309 with a majority bipartisan vote.  The legislation mandates that federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) create a national standard.  It will require health care and social worker employers to come up with and implement a workplace violence prevention plan.  Therefore the National United Nurses organization supported and advocated immensely for the passage of HR1309².  OSHA currently recognizes that workplace violence is an everyday concern for the health care industry.  According to the survey conducted by AMN Health Care many nurses experience violence.  In many of these cases the nurses suffer lasting effects that cause them to leave the field all together¹. 

The Nurses Speak Up

Unfortunately the majority of workplace violence against health care workers comes from the very people they are trying to help.  The patients themselves and many nurses can recall being verbal and physically abused.  As these instances continue more nurses are speaking up about their concerns.  However, the nurses in many cases feel like the organizations that employ them are making it worse.  As more nurses retire the ones left are asked to cover more patients and put in more overtime.  As a result it can lead to more cases of workplace violence and lower rates of quality care.  Hence, the passage of the HR1309 is a step in the right direction.  It has been 7 years in the making and should provide added protection to the men and women who dedicate their lives to helping others².