Nathaniel Glasser Quoted in “Violence Response Plans Help Protect Health-Care Workers”

Bloomberg BNA Daily Labor Report

Nathaniel M. Glasser, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, was quoted in the Bloomberg BNA Daily Labor Report, in “Violence Response Plans Help Protect Health-Care Workers,” by Mary Anne Pazanowski. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

Workplace violence-related injuries are more common in the health-care industry than in any other type of workplace.

Fifteen thousand to 20,000 health-care workers were seriously injured in workplace violence-related incidents every year from 2011 to 2013, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) statistics.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There “is a vast amount of under-reporting in the health-care industry,” Nathaniel M. Glasser, a member of Epstein Becker & Green, Washington, told Bloomberg Law. …

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), in its general duties clause, requires all employers to provide workplaces that are “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious harm.” Workplace violence is a recognized hazard in the health-care industry.

There are no specific workplace violence regulations under the OSH Act, Glasser said, but OSHA has developed suggested guidelines for health-care employers. It also has cited employers for allegedly inadequate programs.

Other federal agencies, most notably the Health and Human Services Department, recommend that health-care facilities develop comprehensive violence prevention programs, depending on their own risk factors and foreseeable scenarios. The HHS has information on violence hazards for all hospital workers, as well as specific violence prevention programs for nurses.

There is “some tension” between the information and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services-mandated patient protections, Glasser said. The CMS, for example, has patient-restraint restrictions that might limit health-care providers’ responses to threats posed by unstable patients, he said. An employer’s policies must be balanced against the patients’ rights, Glasser said.

Additionally, the Joint Commission, a major hospital accrediting organization, has issued a workplace violence alert and recommended actions for health-care employers, Glasser said. This suggests that hospitals that don’t have such plans may be putting their accreditation—which is required for federal payer reimbursement—at risk, he added.