Violence prevention bills are supported by healthcare organizations across Massachusetts
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BURLINGTON, MA – October 2, 2023 – Every 38 minutes in a Massachusetts healthcare facility, someone – most likely a clinician or employee – is either physically assaulted, endures verbal abuse, or is threatened.
This Wednesday, October 4, the state’s Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security will consider a proposal endorsed by Massachusetts hospitals that would take meaningful steps to address and prevent workplace violence within the healthcare system.
An Act Requiring Health Care Facilities to Develop & Implement Programs to Prevent Workplace Violence (H.2381 / S.1538) is a top legislative priority for the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA) and its members. It represents the strongest approach to date in protecting caregivers on the front lines.
The hearing comes on the heels of MHA’s 2023 groundbreaking report on workplace violence and a commitment among all MHA member hospitals to standardize their patient and visitor codes of conduct.
The bills would:
- Establish statewide standards for hospitals to evaluate and address known security risks;
- Require hospitals to develop a workplace violence prevention plan, submit those plans to the Department of Public Health, and report annually on violent incident rates;
- Enable employees who are victims of workplace violence to take paid leave as they address criminal or other legal actions;
- Ensure behavioral health, medical condition, and equity circumstances must be taken into account as individual incidents are reviewed (see more below); and
- Empower state agencies to improve information sharing between hospitals and public safety officials.
The proposals would change criminal justice statutes to:
- Make aggregated assault against healthcare workers a felony; and
- Allow workers to provide the address of their employer or labor union or any subsequent legal actions.
Importantly, criminal charges would be reserved only for patients or visitors who intentionally impede the ability of workers to safely deliver care services. MHA and its members believe strongly that behavioral health, medical condition, and equity circumstances must be taken into account as individual incidents are reviewed. As such, the bills would expand state-run treatment options to patients in mental health crises who are displaying violent behavior and would establish new pathways to trigger the forensic behavioral health system for individuals who should not be subject to arrest.
An Act Requiring Health Care Facilities to Develop & Implement Programs to Prevent Workplace Violence is sponsored by Rep. Mike Moran (D-Boston) and Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester).
The following experts may be available for interview upon request:
“The rise in abusive incidents being seen here in Massachusetts and across the country is simply unacceptable. Our healthcare leaders have made this much clear: we will not stand for it,” said MHA President & CEO Steve Walsh. “This legislation would give the commonwealth bold, sensible tools to protect the dedicated caregivers who stop at nothing to care for us. We applaud Leader Moran and Senator Lewis for leading on this urgent issue and we are hopeful that this is the session in which new violence prevention reforms can become reality.”
“Every Massachusetts hospital has robust policies and procedures in place to mitigate violent incidents. It is truly an around-the-clock effort. But there is even more we can do to take united action at the state level,” said Bonnie Michelman, MBA, MS, CPP, CHPA, Vice President and Chief Security Officer at Massachusetts General Hospital and Mass General Brigham. “We are proud that the commonwealth has a tight-knit community of security, clinical, and quality leaders that is committed to this work and that helped inform this legislation.” Michelman serves as the chair of MHA’s Healthcare Safety & Violence Prevention Workgroup, which meets regularly to share best practices, aggregate data, and establish system-wide solutions.
“Healthcare facilities are a place of refuge. Great patient care is only possible when all our employees — from nurses and physicians to security personnel and administrative staff – feel safe and secure,” said Therese Hudson-Jinks, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, Chief Nursing Officer, Chief Experience Officer, and Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services at Tufts Medical Center. “These bills would provide hospital employees with critical protections at a time when they remain under enormous pressure.”
Learn more about Massachusetts violence prevention data, the actions being taken by local hospitals, and proposed solutions through MHA’s 2023 report, Workplace Violence at Massachusetts Healthcare Facilities: An Untenable Situation & A Call To Protect The Workforce.
About Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association
The Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA) serves as the unified voice for Massachusetts hospitals and healthcare providers. Founded in 1936, MHA represents more than 100 hospitals, healthcare partners, as well as patients across the state. Through advocacy, education, and collaboration, MHA’s mission is to improve the overall health of the commonwealth and support providers’ efforts to offer high-quality, affordable, and accessible care. For further information about MHA, please visit https://www.mhalink.org/ or contact email@example.com.