Nurses demand workplace safety in wake of hospital stabbings

Nurses, in the wake of two recent stabbings at Los Angeles hospitals that left one nurse critically injured, urge hospitals and legislators to put stronger safety measures in place to protect healthcare workers from violent attacks.

Today, the state Senate will hear about legislation, sponsored by the California Nurses Association (CNA), that would require California health and safety officials to make hospitals establish workplace violence plans to protect workers from aggressive and violent behavior, according to the Sacramento Business Journal.

The bill would make hospitals put a safety and security improvement plan in place and report violent incidents to the California Division of Occupational Safety & Health, as well as provide educational training to help workers recognize and respond to violent incidents. The legislation would also prevent hospitals from retaliating against workers who seek help from law enforcement.

However, as hospital budgets shrink and reimbursements dwindle, bill opponents say the training requirement is a "significant unfunded mandate," according to the Journal.

But nurses on the front lines of care said their safety is essential. "We can not stand by while nurses, other hospital staff, patients, families and visitors are put in harm's way in hospitals that fail to provide the measures that will protect their staff and the community," CNA Co-President Malinda Markowitz said in an announcement. "It is time for the legislature to act."

The unrelated stabbings that sparked the outcry occurred Sunday morning when police said Romero Carnalla of Los Angeles allegedly bypassed the weapons screening area at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar and stabbed a nurse several times in the torso, leaving her in critical condition, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Later that day, another man, Thomas Fredette of Santee, walked into Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, grabbed a nurse and stabbed her in the ear with a pencil. The nurse was treated for non-life threatening injuries.

Hospital violence is on the rise. In February, two nurses in New York were injured in violent attacks and last year Minnesota hospitals implemented new safety protocols in response to threats to healthcare workers.

Nurses often feel unprepared to recognize warning signs that patients may become violent, FierceHealthcare previously reported. "You need to be able to recognize when things are starting to escalate," Emergency Nurses Association President Deena Brecher, R.N told earlier this month. "We know our behaviors can help escalate a situation, not intentionally."

To learn more:
- here's the article
- check out the bill
- read the announcement