AUSTIN, Texas (Dec. 13, 2023) – Texas hospitals have partnered with Texas nurses to launch a new workplace violence prevention toolkit to guide hospitals in the implementation of two new state laws designed to bolster protection for health care employees.
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The toolkit puts legal analysis, technical information and sample signage in the hands of hospitals to ensure they are doing everything possible to protect their employees. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, violence against health care workers has been on the rise, with 68% of nurses reporting that they experienced verbal abuse during the pandemic. Some 98% of Texas hospitals reported that workplace violence has increased or stayed constant in the last three years.
The Texas Hospital Association and the Texas Nurses Association worked closely during the 2023 session of the Texas Legislature to reinforce the need for new laws to protect health care employees from violence in the workplace. The Texas Legislature ultimately passed Senate Bill 240 by Sen. Donna Campbell, MD (R-New Braunfels), requiring hospitals and others to establish and implement a workplace violence prevention committee, plan and policy by Sep. 1, 2024. Additionally, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 840 by Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas), making it a third-degree felony to assault hospital personnel anywhere on hospital property.
“Workplace violence simply cannot be tolerated to any degree within a health care setting. Hospitals must be places of refuge and healing, and employees must have a safe work environment and respectful treatment,” said THA President/CEO John Hawkins. “We’re grateful the Texas Legislature recognizes the need to protect this critical resource and the health care infrastructure of our state. Without staff, there are no hospitals. Without hospitals, Texas communities are at risk.”
Added Serena Bumpus, CEO of TNA: “Nurses and other health care professionals face alarming rates of workplace violence that demand meaningful action. TNA and THA sought sweeping legal protections and found a receptive supermajority of elected officials who worked diligently to address the issue. Texas nurses are now protected by laws that will assist in putting prevention practices in place, require mechanisms to report violence and prosecute violent offenders.”
Violence in hospital settings impacts not only nurses, but also physicians and everyone else on a hospital campus, including security, food service, janitorial and administrative personnel. Because hospitals and health systems receive anyone in need of care, they have long been vulnerable to instances of violence and intimidation. This issue was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with frontline personnel assuming responsibility for the enforcement of pandemic-related safety measures such as masking and visitor limitations.
While the vast majority of Texas hospitals have implemented workplace violence prevention efforts, THA and TNA advocated for additional requirements in state law. The toolkit offers detailed information about the new laws and how Texas hospitals can ensure compliance, including additional information about accreditation, overtime and essential elements of required hospital nurse staffing plans. The toolkit also includes details on existing state and federal laws, sample policies, sample signage in English and Spanish and background on the growing issue of violence in health care settings.
“This toolkit offers a roadmap for addressing this ever-growing problem in our health care facilities,” Bumpus said. “We are committed to fostering safe and secure facilities that ensure nurses and other health care professionals can focus on caring for Texans.”
Resources for News Media:
THA/TNA Toolkit: Texas Workplace Violence Prevention Toolkit
THA White Paper: Soaring Staff Vacancies Result in Reduced Hospital Services
THA Opinion: Hospitals Have New Hope to Regain Needed Personnel Power
THA Opinion: It’s Our Duty to Unite Against Workplace Violence
Founded in 1930, the Texas Hospital Association is the leadership organization and principal advocate for the state’s hospitals and health care systems. Based in Austin, THA enhances its members’ abilities to improve accessibility, quality and cost-effectiveness of health care for all Texans. One of the largest hospital associations in the country, THA represents 452 of the state’s non-federal general and specialty hospitals and health care systems, which employ some 400,000 health care professionals statewide. Learn more about THA at www.tha.org or follow THA on Twitter at http://twitter.com/texashospitals.
Texas Nurses Association
The Texas Nurses Association (TNA) is a statewide membership-based professional association of registered nurses. Our vision is to empower Texas Nurses to advance the profession. Founded in 1907, TNA is the oldest and largest nursing association in Texas. Contact us at [email protected]. Follow TNA on Facebook and Twitter for updates.