CO lawmakers introduce bill to prevent violence against health care workers

CO lawmakers introduce bill to prevent violence against health care workers

DENVER — State lawmakers have introduced a bill aimed at curbing rising attacks on health care workers in Colorado.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that health care and social services workers are five times more likely to be assaulted on the job than other occupations.

The Colorado Nurses Association Research Advisory and Networking Team says workplace violence in health care is “pervasive, under-reported, and detrimental to workplace safety and patient outcomes.” The same summary said the impact of the issue can lead to increased stress, burnout, trauma and even leaving the industry. Reducing workplace violence is crucial to preventing “an exacerbation of the care shortage crisis,” the report said.

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State Rep. Eliza Hamrick of Arapahoe and Douglas counties wants to prevent health care workers from being assaulted in the workplace through House Bill 24-1066. It will apply to hospitals, emergency rooms, nursing facilities, assisted living residences and federally qualified health centers.

The bill would require these facilities to establish workplace violence prevention committees to record and review any incidents of violence against employees. These committees will develop violence prevention plans specific to their work sites.

“It creates a protocol for field workers to have a greater voice on workplace violence committees,” Hamrick said. “The beauty of this bill is that workers at the facility get to decide what is best for them.” advantageous.”

The bill states that 60 percent of workplace violence takes the form of verbal aggression, 36 percent involves threats, 29 percent is physical violence, and 4 percent involves the use of objects or weapons.

Hamrick said the framework included in the bill is based on best practices.

“California passed a law that reduced workplace violence by about 40 percent, which was modeled after that law,” Hamrick said. “Assaults on nurses already had criminal penalties, which our bill does It’s about prevention… We’ve seen over and over again that, you know, more penalties don’t necessarily reduce certain types of crime.”

Hamrick said assaulting a health care worker is considered a felony in Colorado.

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The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Colorado supports the bill.

“In the mental health field, our biggest concern is that if you take them down a criminal justice path, they’re going to get entangled in something that’s hard to get out of,” said Executive Director Ray Merenstein. “We’re trying to build a A system that actually works, rather than perpetuating a system that already doesn’t work for mental health.”

The Colorado Board of Behavioral Healthcare (CBHC) is currently taking an amended position on the bill. People at CBHC said they took this stance because there is some redundancy in what healthcare organizations already need from a provider perspective.

The bill has been submitted to the House of Representatives for consideration by the scheduling committee.

Colorado lawmakers aim to prevent violence against health care workers with proposed bill

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