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Violence in Healthcare: It is not a part of the job.

Workers in the healthcare and social assistance industry are injured at work more often than any other industry group in the United States. ("Safety and Health Topics: Healthcare." United States Department of Labor. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Accessed at: https:// Violent assaults on Healthcare workers are common within Montana and across the United States. These attacks may result in physical injury, medical expenses, inability to return to work and increased stress. Nurses and nurse assistants had the highest incidence rates for workplace violence injuries of all healthcare occupations, with the rate for these two occupations almost doubling from 2012 to 2014. A report titled Assaults on Healthcare Workers in Montana, published November 30, 2016 by the Montana Occupational Health and Safety Surveillance Program (MOHSS) in the Montana Department of Labor, confirms these findings even with the severe underreporting that exists.

MOHSS conducted surveillance and descriptive analysis of assaults on healthcare workers in Montana to provide an analysis of the prevalence, breakdown, and severity of assaults on healthcare workers to provide information that can lead to increased knowledge, interventions, and training to increase safety for these workers.

Data comparing Montana to the national average was analyzed over the period of time (2011-2014) and mirrors that of national reports that nursing assistants followed by Registered Nurses have the highest rate of assault compared to other workers.

The report goes onto show that Montana nurses and healthcare workers in the private sector are being injured as a result of assault, while on duty, at a significantly higher rate than that of the national rate. See Exhibit 4.2 on page 2. (Assaults on Healthcare Workers in Montana-November 30, 2016, MOHSS-MT DOL)

It is important to take into consideration when viewing this table the severe underreporting of assaults among healthcare workers that exist as these rates are most likely significantly higher. For example, the report stated that only 7 to 42 percent of all assaults occurring in the hospital setting are reported at the national level. Another important point is that many of the assaults that occur do not require actual days away from work for the nurse or healthcare worker to recuperate from an injury, therefore are not captured in these statistics. The combination of underreporting and assault injuries not severe enough requiring designated days away from work, to be included in the statistics, supports the statements that we do not know the full extent of violent assaults in the healthcare workplace that occur.

Reducing or eliminating assault on healthcare workers while on duty is consistent with MNA's goals and objectives to raise the level of awareness with Montana employers and employees about work place safety and health by initiating, promoting and evaluating activities that create a safer work environment for all Montanans. No worker should consider assault as a part of their job. Nurses, healthcare workers and emergency responders becoming injured as a result of assault while performing their professional duties and within the course and scope of their employment, are eligible for benefits under the workers' compensation act.

Montana Nurses Association's efforts to address violence in the healthcare workplace through legislation, education and culture change will have a positive impact on healthcare workers, employers, and patients, therefore having a positive impact on Montana workers' compensation system.

LC0223 is a bill for an act entitled: "An Act solely creating the felony offense of assault on a health care worker or emergency responder; providing a penalty; and providing an immediate effective date."

Passing this legislation is a critical step in addressing violence in healthcare and creating a culture of safety for all healthcare workers and emergency responders.

Vicky Byrd, BA, RN, OCN

Brenda Donaldson, BA, RN; MNA

Campaign Chair
Exhibit 4.2. Estimated rates (per 10,000 full-time workers) of
injuries caused by a patient that resulted in days away from work,
among healthcare and social assistance workers in private industry,
Montana and the M.S., 2011-2014.

         MT Rate     U.S. Rate

2011      67.4          36.7
2012      61.5          37.4
2013      57.2          35.8
2014      55.0          32.0

Note: Table made from line graph.
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Title Annotation:Legislative Updates
Author:Byrd, Vicky; Donaldson, Brenda
Publication:The Pulse
Geographic Code:1U8MT
Date:Feb 1, 2017
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