Physical and verbal abuse against nurses is a serious problem in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings across the country. The likelihood of health care workers being exposed to violence is higher than prison guards or police officers. 

Recent disturbing and alarming incidents have put a spotlight on abuse against nurses: In just the past few months, an emergency room nurse in Massachusetts was stabbed by a patient. Two nurses in Illinois were taken hostage, and one was beaten and raped. A nurse in Utah was pushed and wrongly arrested by a police officer. An Arkansas nurse was pushed down a flight of stairs.

We can and must do better for all healthcare workers. 

The Healthcare Workplace Violence Prevention Act (HB 4100 – PA 100-1051)  was signed into law on August 24, 2018. The law became effective on January 1, 2019.  What is your facility doing to implement the law?  

PA 100-1051 provides additional protections and processes to identify risks and take actions to prevent workplace violence. These protections are summarized below.  What is your facility doing to implement the new law?

Health Care Worker Duty to Report

If a Health care worker contacts law enforcement or file a report with law enforcement against a patient or individual due to workplace violence they must provide notice to the management of their employing health care provider within three days of contacting law enforcement or filing the report. (Section 15(a))

Question –  Has your employer established and communicated the method for filing such reports?

Whistleblower Protections and Bar on Discouraging Reports

Management of health care providers may not discourage a health care worker from exercising their right to contact law enforcement or file a report in relation to workplace violence. (Section 15(b))

Also, the Illinois whistleblower law applies to health care providers and their employees with respect to implementing or enforcing compliance with the Act. (Section 25)

Question – Are you a charge nurse? Has your facility discussed with you that you play a role in compliance with this requirement?

New Requirements for Health Care Providers

All health care providers in Illinois must post a notice stating that verbal aggression will not be tolerated and that physical assault will be reported to law enforcement. (Section 15(c))

Question – Has this notice been placed in your facility?

Your facility must offer “immediate post-incident services” for health care workers who are directly involved in a workplace violence incident caused by patients or visitors. Such post-incident services include acute treatment and access to psychological evaluation. (Section 15(d))

Question – What services are available in your facility? Where is the information posted? Has a policy been developed?

Health care providers must create and implement a workplace violence program that both complies with OSHA requirements and meets the following requirements:

  • Classifies workplace violence as
    • Type 1 violence, or workplace violence committed by a person who has no legitimate business at the work site, such as individuals who enter a work site solely with the intent of committing a crime
    • Type 2 violence, meaning workplace violence directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, visitors or other individuals accompanying patients
    • Type 3 violence, or workplace violence against an employee by a current or former employee, supervisor or manager
    • Type 4 violence, meaning workplace violence committed in the workplace by someone who does not work there, but who has or has had a personal relationship with an employee
  • Includes management commitment and worker participation, including but not limited to nurses
  • Involves worksite analysis and identification of potential hazards
  • Includes hazard prevention and control
  • Incorporates safety and health training with required hours to be determined by rule (yet to be promulgated)
  • Documents and evaluates the program (further details on what records are required and the type/scope of evaluation are likely to be established in future rulemaking)

(Sections 20(a), (a-5), and (b))

Question – Has your facility begun this work? Has a committee been formed? Or is the facility waiting for the rules process to be complete before they implement this requirement?

Treatment of Committed Individuals

Hospitals and medical facilities are now specifically permitted (but not required) to work with the Department of Corrections, or any county or municipality having custody, to establish protocols for receiving committed persons, particularly committed persons who are potentially violent.

  • Notify a treating facility of concerns regarding the committed person (including medical and mental health information, information on recent violent actions and/or other safety concerns)
  • Provide detailed medical records to the facility treating the committed person
  • Provide at least one guard specifically trained in custodial escort and custody of high-risk committed persons to accompany any committed person to the facility
  • Limit visitors with access to the committed person
  • The committed individual is required to wear “security restraints” in accordance with the custodial agency’s procedures and rules when there is the risk of physical harm to the committed person; the individual has exhibited behavior in the past that puts themselves or others at risk of harm; the individual is a flight risk.

Similar provisions apply to juveniles in custody that have recently exhibited violence. (Section 30(b))

Question – Have new policies been developed regarding the treatment of committed individuals? What steps are taken to notify your facility of any concerns related to the transfer of a committed person?