According to the American Nurses Association, one in four nurses is physically assaulted while working. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has estimated the risk of violence against healthcare workers at four times higher than any other industry.
Despite the growing risk of violence against healthcare workers, few states have legislation to protect them.
Less than half of nurses rate the hospitals they work in as safe. The ANA blames this on an attitude in the industry where workplace violence is a routine part of the job that employees must deal with. Few states have legislation to address workplace violence prevention and OSHA does not require healthcare organizations to have prevention programs.
A Texas senate bill to address violence against healthcare workers did not become law in 2020. The law would have required healthcare employers to create task forces to address workplace violence and provide medical treatment and other services to employees when violence occurs.
The increasing threat of violence contributes to high rates of burnout in the profession. The Texas Center for Workplace Studies estimates that by 2032, the state will have a shortage of 57,000 nurses.
While Texas does not have legislation to specifically address violence against nurses, employers in Texas must provide and maintain a reasonably safe work environment per the terms of the Texas Occupational Safety Act. Nurses who believe their hospitals failed to provide a safe work environment may have a claim against their employer under this Act.
While specific legislation and cultural change in the healthcare industry may help reverse the trend of increasing violence against nurses, existing laws may also provide some recourse for nurses injured on the job.