SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Nurses will be better protected from incidents of workplace violence that could also put patients at risk under a new law backed by state Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, which is set to take effect on Jan. 1.
“Fear of personal injury should not be a part of any nurse’s job,” said Halpin. “Yet violence is growing in emergency rooms and hospitals throughout the country due to the opioid and drug abuse crisis, unmet mental health needs and patient aggression fueled by the stress of rising health care costs. A threatening act or violence crime against a nurse is an attack on every patient under that nurse’s care, and we must work together to protect the wellbeing of those who protect our health.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16,890 U.S. workers were intentionally injured by another person in their workplace in 2016, 70 percent of whom worked in health care and social services. Halpin’s new law creates anti-violence protections for nurses and other health care workers.
House Bill 4100 requires medical facilities to develop a workplace violence prevention program, creates whistleblower protections for nurses who report incidents of violence and adds additional safeguards for nurses providing care to potentially violent inmates transferred from correctional institutions. The new law comes in response to at least two incidents at Illinois hospitals in 2017, including one incident in which an inmate undergoing treatment used a weapon to hold nurses hostage.
“Nurses’ lives were put at risk by the very people whose lives they were trying to protect,” said Halpin. “This new law establishes protocols to prevent and respond to violent attacks against nurses, sending a strong message that their protection will be taken seriously.”