WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Last month our FOCUS investigation revealed the impacts of violence against nurses. This afternoon, the U.S. House passed national legislation that could require health care employers have violence prevention plans.
Nurses and other health care workers are calling it a monumental step forward for their industry.
This comes as those in the industry complain they’re getting attacked by patients like never before. Nursing organizations cite the opioid crisis, unsafe staffing, and lack of plans to respond to violence as main drivers. The legislation, H.R. 1309, would make reporting violence mandatory. It would also require employers have plans to prevent violence.
National Nurses United, the nation’s biggest labor union of registered nurses, said the bill would hold employers accountable, instead of sweeping violence under the rug.
“There is an epidemic of workplace violence in America’s hospitals, clinics and social service workplaces," said Zenei Cortez, president of National Nurses United. "This is literally a life or death issue. Every moment we wait puts lives in jeopardy."
The lawmaker behind the legislation, Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney, said he was motivated, in part, by his wife, a pediatric nurse practitioner.
“It’s been just way overlooked for far too long and it’s time for Congress and the country to act,” said Courtney.
The CEO of the Kentucky Nurses Association, Delanor Manson, said the bill would pave the way for safety. But to put the legislation in context: There are still several steps for it to become law. Now it’s up to the Senate to pass a similar measure. Then, it would move onto the President’s desk.
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