Bakersfield nurse agrees with state legislation for hospital security

BAKERSFIELD - Nurses across the state are hopeful that a new bill moving through the California Senate will improve safety for hospital staff.

Senate Bill 1299, introduced by Senator Alex Padilla, would require the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to adopt standards that would require hospitals to have a work place violence prevention plan as part of its injury and illness prevention plan to protect health care workers from  violent and aggressive acts.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care workers are five times more likely to suffer workplace assaults than in any other major industry.

Mary Lynn Briggs is a nurse at Mercy and Mercy Southwest. She has experienced dangerous situations at work and believes there needs to be more security.

“It’s a very stressful situation, especially if it’s something critical very life threatening. People react with anger in addition to reacting with sorrow,” Briggs said. “You never know who is going to react in what manner.”

The California Nurses Association is sponsoring the bill, which comes just after two nurses in Southern California were attacked while at work, earlier this month.

“There has been times when I have been in the room as the only staff member in a room with a patient and assorted different family members. Family members have been really angry and I feel I’ve been lucky so far,” Briggs said.

Hospitals would also be required to improve hospital security and have the correct number of staff on the clock to help reduce potential violent incidents.

Currently there must be one nurse for every four patients in an emergency room. Briggs works in the intensive care unit where it is state law to have a maximum of two patients for every nurse.

The California Hospital Association has opposed the bill stating that the bill is “unnecessary” because:
“ 1) current law requires hospitals to adopt and implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan; 2) Cal/OSHA already has jurisdiction to investigate, remedy and enforce situations involving workplace violence; and 3) the sponsor of this bill, the California Nurses Association, has initiated the regulatory process with Cal/OSHA.”

The bill will be heard by the Senate Health Committee Wednesday afternoon.

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