Hospital team members and other health care professionals face a heightened risk of workplace violence. That risk is higher than for than workers in other industries. Inappropriate behavior by patients and families interrupts operations and delays care for patients and diverts resources. VHHA has worked with the Virginia General Assembly to strengthen the law to protect health care workers and works with hospital members to raise public awareness about workplace violence, develop best practices and toolkits, and conduct educational programming. Situations involving unruly, disruptive, and violent patients or family members are on the rise in health care settings. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that of the nearly 21,000 private sector workers who “experienced trauma from nonfatal workplace violence in 2019,” 70 percent worked in the health care and social assistance sector. BLS data also shows that the incidence rate of violence against health care workers has been on the rise since 2011. And those numbers may not reflect the true scope of the issue, with the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) noting that while health care “accounts for nearly as many serious violent injuries as all other industries combined . . . many more assaults or threats go unreported.”
The videos below highlight the stories of nurses who have experienced workplace violence and some of the educational programming VHHA has offered.
Virginia hospitals, nurses, and other health care partners successfully worked with the Virginia General Assembly in 2019 to strengthen protections for health care workers performing their job by making it a class 1 misdemeanor to threaten to kill or harm them while they are rendering care in a hospital, emergency department, or other clinical facility. That law has been updated since then, most recently in 2023 to extend protections to providers rendering care in all health care settings.