Workplace violence is a reality for far too many nurses and healthcare workers. A survey of nearly 700 California doctors and nurses by SEIU in March and April of 2009 found that one-half of respondents had witnessed violence in their hospital and that one-quarter had been targeted in a violent incident.
SEIU 121RN members, frustrated by their hospital’s refusal to work on issues surrounding security, took the law into their own hands brought the problem to legislators’ attention. 121RN spearheaded the introduction of AB 1083, which was sponsored by Assemblymember John Perez. AB 1083 became law in October 2009 and is now in section 1257.7 of the California Health & Safety Code. Because it is under the purview of the California Department of Public Health, AB 1083 has been difficult to implement and enforce.
The Law Requires:
After July 1, 2010, hospitals are required to, not less than annually, conduct a security and safety assessment. Using the assessment, develop and annually update the security and safety plan with measures to protect personnel, patients and visitors from aggressive or violent behavior.
The assessment shall examine trends of aggressive or violent behavior at the facility.
In developing the assessment and plan, the hospital shall consult with affected employees, including the recognized collective bargaining agent(s) and members of the hospital medical staff. This consultation may occur through hospital committees. The individual or members of a hospital committee responsible for developing the security plan shall be familiar with all of the following:
- The role of security in hospital operations.
- Hospital organization.
- Protective measures, including alarms and access control.
- The handling of disturbed patients, visitors and employees.
- Identification of aggressive and violent predicting factors.
- Hospital safety and emergency preparedness.
- The rudiments of documenting and reporting crimes, for example not disturbing a crime scene.
The plan to include security considerations relating to efforts to cooperate with local law enforcement regarding violent acts in the facility.
Hospitals shall track incidents of aggressive or violent behavior as part of the quality assessment and improvement program and for the purposes of developing a security plan to deter and manage further aggressive or violent acts of a similar nature.
The security plan contains measures to protect personnel, patients and visitors from aggressive or violent behavior. The plan may include, but is not limited to, security considerations relating to all of the following:
- Physical layout.
- Security personnel availability.
- Policy and training related to appropriate responses to violent acts.
- Efforts to cooperate with local law enforcement regarding violent acts in the facility.
As part of the security plan, a hospital shall adopt security policies including, but not limited to, personnel training policies designed to protect personnel, patients and visitors. The hospital shall have sufficient personnel to provide security pursuant to the security plan developed. Persons regularly assigned to provide security in a hospital setting shall be trained regarding the role of security in hospital operations, including the identification of aggressive and violent predicting factors and management of violent disturbances.
In developing the plan, the hospital shall consider guidelines or standards on violence in health care facilities issued by the department, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, and federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Any act of assault that results in injury or involves the use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon, against any on-duty hospital personnel shall be reported to the local law enforcement agency within 72 hours of the incident.
Any other assault or battery against any on-duty hospital personnel may be reported to the local law enforcement agency within 72 hours of the incident.
Any individual knowingly interfering with or obstructing the lawful reporting process shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.