005812 1356005

Petrie-Flom Center hosts panel discussion on violence against healthcare workers | News

Harvard Law School’s Petrie-Flom Center hosted a virtual panel Tuesday on efforts to reduce violence against health care workers.

Panelists at the event, titled “Violence in Healthcare: A Growing Crisis,” included U.S. House Representative Madeleine C. Dean (D-Pa.), registered nurse Elise Wilson and president-elect of the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety Connie Packard . Petrie-Flom Center Visiting Fellow Stephen P. Wood moderated the event.

During the panel, Wood shared statistics about increasing cases of violence against healthcare workers.

“We know that violence is four times more prevalent in the healthcare setting than any other industry aside from law enforcement,” Wood said. “We know that 20 to maybe 30 percent of health care providers report having either witnessed or been involved in some type of violent event.”

Wilson said she faced violence while working as a nurse in a community emergency room. A former patient of the hospital returned weeks after his initial visit and attacked Wilson, causing permanent nerve damage that resulted in the loss of control of her hand.

“I can’t work anymore because I can’t even put on a pair of gloves. It’s very difficult,” Wilson said. “To say it changed my life would be an understatement.”

Despite the prevalence of violence against health care workers, Wilson said little has been done to mitigate harm, citing the fact that in Massachusetts it is not a crime to assault health care workers.

“I know there are accounts out there, but nothing has been done to crack them,” Wilson said.

Dean said she intends to introduce legislation that would defend health care workers across the country from violence. In June, Dean and U.S. Representative Larry D. Bucshon (R-Ind.) proposed the Health Care Employee Violence Safety Act, which would criminalize the assault or intimidation of hospital employees.

Additionally, if passed, the law would provide $25 million for education and prevention measures, Dean said.

“We hope that by doing that — by passing this bill, making it a federal crime — it will be a real deterrent to people who are in these environments to say ‘Stop, no way is violence acceptable in these environments,'” Dean said.

Wilson also said she believes there is a lack of support for health care workers who are targets of violence.

“Nowhere else in the profession would someone – if you were the target of some kind of assault, verbal or physical – say to you, ‘Well, what else could you have done to prevent this?'” she said.

Wilson said hospitals should support assaulted health care workers by instead asking questions like, “What can we do to help you?” and “What can we do to prevent this from ever happening again?”

Packard said that IAHSS aims to reduce health care violence, including providing resources for policy guidelines and increased safety measures at hospitals.

“We help and heal at health care facilities,” Packard said. “There’s no way you can do that when all you care about is being assaulted.”

Related Posts