States seek solutions to hospital violence

State legislatures aim to reduce a prevalent problem in the healthcare sector: violence against workers.

A resolution in the Georgia legislature this year created a panel to study assaults on hospital staff and make recommendations for future action, according to the Gainesville Times.

Hospitals have long sought solutions to problems with violent patients, including identifying common catalysts, FierceHealthcare previously reported. In August, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited a Brooklyn hospital for inadequately protecting its staff from violence.

More than eight in 10 hospital workers have been assaulted at some point in their career, according to the resolution. "In 2013, an emergency department nurse was seven times more likely to be injured in the line of duty than an on-duty police officer," Van Haygood, a registered nurse and Northeast Georgia Medical Center's (NGMC) emergency room director, told the Times.  

The violence is an almost daily occurrence, according to Kay Hall, an NGMC registered nurse and now the hospital's operations manager. Emergency department (ED) workers are some of the most frequent victims of violence, NGMC's ED is one of the state's busiest, treating tens of thousands more patients per year than it is designed for, according to the article. However, violence is an issue at facilities statewide, according to the article, due in large part to insufficient mental health services.

Last week, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed two bills into law aimed at reducing hospital violence, according to the Pasa Robles Daily News. The first, Assembly Bill 1340, establishes Enhanced Treatment Programs at state hospitals to give patients at high risk for violence more individualized treatment. The second measure, Assembly Bill 2625, addresses people declared incompetent to stand trial, who are often taken to state hospitals for treatment. 

To learn more:
- here's the Gainesville Times article
- read the Daily News article
- here's the first and second bills