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‘Hospitals Against Violence’ campaign calls for awareness and action

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The American Hospital Association is drawing attention to the violence healthcare workers face and is urging support for federal legislation.

U.S. Reps. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., and Larry Bucshon, R-Ind., have introduced legislation to create federal protections for hospital workers. (Photos: U.S. House of Representatives)

U.S. Reps. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., and Larry Bucshon, R-Ind., have introduced legislation to create federal protections for hospital workers. (Photos: U.S. House of Representatives)

Hospitals are coming together to take a stand against violence, and encouraging support for legislation to protect healthcare workers.

Today, the American Hospital Association is leading a national day of awareness to end violence. With the campaign, “Hospitals Against Violence,” the association is encouraging health systems to share stories of successful efforts to protect workers and patients. (They also created a hashtag “HAVhope” for sharing on social media.) It’s the seventh annual day of awareness.

The association is asking hospitals and health systems to back a bill in Congress to improve protections of healthcare employees. Physicians and nurses have said they’ve suffered more physical attacks in hospitals in recent years.

U.S. Reps. Larry Bucshon, an Indiana Republican and a doctor, and Madeleine Dean, a Pennsylvania Democrat, are sponsoring the Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) Act. The bill (H.R. 2584) would offer federal protection to healthcare workers, just as federal law provides for penalties for those who assault airline employees.

“The rapid uptick in violence against our nation’s healthcare professionals is negatively impacting their ability to provide quality care for their patients and is worsening levels of stress and burnout,” Bucshon, a practicing doctor for 15 years, said in a statement.

The measure gained attention in the last legislative session but didn’t get through Congress. Lawmakers and healthcare advocates are hoping for more success this year.

“The protections in the SAVE Act already exist for other workforces, like commercial flight crews, and extending these protections to hospital employees is simply the right thing to do,” Dean said in a statement. “Healthcare workers do so much for us – the least we can do in return is try to ensure they feel safe going to work every day.”

Hospitals have endured horrific violence in the past year that has drawn national attention.

Last month, a CDC employee was fatally shot and four others were wounded at a medical complex that’s part of Northside Hospital in Atlanta.

A nurse and a social worker were fatally shot at Methodist Dallas Medical Center in Dallas, Texas in October 2022. Authorities said the suspect was assaulting his girlfriend in the maternity unit and shot the victims after they entered the patient’s room.

Four people were killed in a shooting at a medical building on the campus of the Saint Francis Health System in Tulsa, Okla. in June 2022. Authorities said the suspect was upset because of pain after a recent surgery. Two doctors, a receptionist and a patient were killed.

In addition, children’s hospitals across the nation have been targeted in coordinated online harassment campaigns because they have provided gender-affirming care, according to a report from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

About half of hospital nurses (48%) reported an increase in workplace violence, according to a 2022 survey by National Nurses United.

Healthcare leaders need to listen when doctors and nurses say they don’t feel safe at work, Marisa Randazzo, executive director of threat management of Ontic, told Chief Healthcare Executive® in a January interview.

“It’s not enough to just do the work,” she said. “It’s really important to make sure that all employees at these hospitals and healthcare facilities know of all the violence prevention work that’s going on.”

See part of our conversation with Marisa Randazzo on how hospitals can take steps to reduce violence in this video.


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