Utah Nurse Assault Case Highlights Need for Workplace Violence Prevention Standard

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The United States was recently shocked when a video showing Alex Wubbles – a registered nurse at the University of Utah – being assaulted by a police office after she refused to let him take a blood sample from a patient who was at the time unconscious and therefore unable to consent to consent to the procedure.

Shocking Stats

This has highlighted a national problem around the issue of safety in the workplace for nurses and the difficulties they face in protecting themselves from violence. It’s shocking, but healthcare workers are, according to the United States bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 5-12 times more likely to be the victim of workplace violence than the average American.

Between 2005-2014, the rates of violence enacted on healthcare workers in private industry hospitals rose by a staggering 110 percent and the problem only seems to be worsening.

National Nurses United – the biggest union of registered nurses in the United States are now making their voice know, condemning the violence that was enacted upon Nurse Wubbles and calling for changes to be made to the system so that their members can feel safe and secure at work as they dedicate themselves to helping others.

NNU are asking that employers in the healthcare industry draw up comprehensive workplace violence prevention plans and enforce them. This, they say will protect patients and their families just as much as nurses because, of course, violence affects everyone in the vicinity as much as the actual victim. It could also benefit hospitals because many nurses are forced to seek the help of L+G Attorneys to seek compensation for the injuries they are awarded. Fewer instances of violence would then cut down on the costs of expensive litigation and compensation payouts.

Violence Assessment Needed

National Nurses United says that any violence prevention plan must include an individual assessment of each healthcare facility and the specific needs within each unit if it is to be effective. It should also primarily focus on preventing violence occurring at all by implementing simple measures such as safe staffing levels and training for everyone working in facilities so that they are better equipped to de-escalate an incident before it turns into violence, but also so that they know what to do when a violent incident does occur.

They would also like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to enact a workplace violence standard which would force hospitals and other healthcare facilities to create these violence prevention programs across the USA. They do not want any measure to be purely voluntary as that would leave many nurses and healthcare professionals at greater risk of violence, which is fundamentally unfair.

The Californian arm of the NNU, the California Nurses Association, are making great strides in this area, having already secured a workplace violence standard in that state,and the NNU are using their victory to propel similar legislation forward nationwide by petitioning the OSHA and but highlighting just how at risk the nation’s nurses really are. They are confident that they will be able to enact changes and make the lives of their nurses much more secure in the future.

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