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What's being done to make hospitals safer for employees?

Living in daily fear of physical violence shouldn't be part of anybody's job -- and hospital workers are tired of acting like it is normal.

Unfortunately, many hospital workers say that when they're victimized, they're often discouraged from filing a report and expected to shrug off whatever happened and accept that it's "just part of the job."

Worse, the victimized doctor or nurse may end up blamed for the violence. There is a lot of focus on teaching hospital employees how to de-escalate situations where a patient is disoriented, or a family member is acting out because of fear or stress over their loved one's condition. However, some nurses feel that administrators blame the nurse when those de-escalation tactics fail -- throwing all the responsibility for the problem back on the doctor or nurse as if he or she isn't capable of properly doing the job.

Reports by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicate that incidents of serious violence are four times higher in health care than in other industries. While doctors and nurses say that some hospitals are taking voluntary safety measures -- like installing metal detectors that are used to screen patients and visitors alike on their way in the door for weapons -- it isn't enough.

It's time to make hospitals administrators more accountable for the acts of violence against their employees. That starts with requiring hospitals to actually implement plans to prevent violence against their employees. Recent proposals to Congress, called the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, would be a start -- if it is successful. Among other things, it could help end the code of silence that seems to exist in hospitals around acts of violence by imposing fines for failure to report such incidents.

If you're a hospital employee who has suffered a violent injury on the job, you have rights. Find out more about how you may be able to claim compensation for your injuries and losses.

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