Emergency Nurses Association Supports Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act of 2021

Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Connecticut)
Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Connecticut).

The Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) on Monday, February 22, 2021 issued a letter of support for the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act of 2021 following its introduction in the House by Rep. Joe Courtney.

“I’m grateful for the support of our bipartisan coalition, and especially for the support of nurses, doctors, EMTs, social service workers, and others who have helped us drive this bill farther and farther ahead. We’re ready to work hard to move this effort across the finish line in the 117th Congress.”

— Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT)

The bill would require, among other things, health care and social service employers to develop and implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan which must include procedures to identify and respond to risks that make health care facilities, such as emergency departments, vulnerable to violent incidents. The latest version includes language that ensures workers are informed specifically about anti-retaliation protections for those who report violent incidents.

In the letter to Rep. Courtney, ENA President Ron Kraus, MSN, RN, EMT, CEN, TCRN, ACNS-BC, described the legislation as “important and timely” given the prevalence of attacks on emergency nurses. Research has found that Emergency Department staff, including nurses, deal with a violent encounter about once every two months. A study by OSHA reported health care workers accounted for approximately 50 percent of all workplace violence victims and are four times more likely to be involved in such incidents compared to all other U.S. workers.

“For too long, emergency nurses have disproportionately suffered the physical and mental toll caused by violent assaults inflicted on them as they simply did their job caring for patients,” Kraus said. “This legislation takes an important step toward reducing the opportunity for, and frequency of, such attacks with the ultimate goal of protecting the safety of all emergency health care providers.”

Kraus also praised Courtney, who spoke about workplace violence at ENA’s annual advocacy event in 2019, for continuing to put the safety of health care workers at the forefront of his legislative priorities.

Workplace violence has long been a top priority for ENA, which supported similar bills introduced in the last two congressional cycles. In 2019, ENA and the American College of Emergency Physicians united to launch the No Silence on ED Violence campaign focused on raising awareness about the issue, while also providing emergency nurses and physicians relevant resources and a peer support network.

Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), a senior member of the House Education and Labor Committee, re-introduced legislation to the 117th Congress today that would curb the rising rates of workplace violence facing health care and social service employees such as nurses, emergency responders, medical assistants, physicians, and social workers. The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act is supported by a bipartisan coalition of original co-sponsors including Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, Rep. Don Bacon (NE-02), Rep. Alma Adams (NC-12), Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, Rep. Don Young (AK-At Large), Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), and Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04). The legislation has also received support from a host of health care and social service professionals, as well as unions representing workers in these sectors.

In 2019, during the 116th Congress, Courtney’s Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care and Social Services Act passed the House with bipartisan support by a margin of 251-158. The bill did not get a vote in the Senate.

The Emergency Nurses Association dedicated to defining the future of emergency nursing through advocacy, education, research, innovation, and leadership. Founded in 1970, ENA has proven to be an indispensable resource to the global emergency nursing community. With more than 50,000 members worldwide, ENA advocates for patient safety, develops industry-leading practice standards and guidelines, and guides emergency healthcare public policy. ENA members have expertise in triage, patient care, disaster preparedness, and all aspects of emergency care. ENA headquarters are located Schaumburg, Illinois.

Rep. Joseph Courtney has served as the U.S. Representative for Connecticut’s 2nd congressional district since 2007. A member of the Democratic Party, his district encompasses most of the eastern third of the state, including Norwich and New London. Courtney’s wife is a nurse practitioner.

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Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Connecticut
Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Connecticut).