In an attempt to deal with violence against those who work in health care, Oregon legislators this year unanimously passed a bill that requires hospitals and certain surgery centers to address the problem, reports the Oregonian. The new law gives staff additional self-defense rights and sets guidelines for mandatory violence education, prevention and mitigation. Most Portland-area hospitals already have some plan in place, representatives say, though tweaking might be necessary.
The new law mandates a detailed, statewide tally of hospital violence. The state will collect information about each incident, including the time, the place, the victim and offender and the level of injury. Labor Department statistics suggest a gap between the average rate of assaults for private industry workers and hospital employees. And Oregon’s disparity is greater than the national average. Here, there are 10 hospital assaults for every two private-sector assaults. Nationally, there are eight for every two. In a 2006 survey, the Emergency Nurses Association found that 86 percent of the 1,000 members surveyed had been a victim of workplace violence in the previous three years.