Nurse Stabbings Spur Calls for Workplace Violence Prevention

“It’s a job we all love and you just want to come to work and do it and be safe,” said Margie Keenan, a nurse of 40 years

Less than a week after two on-duty nurses were stabbed in separate attacks at Southern California hospitals, a state senate labor committee will hear for the first time from healthcare workers about workplace violence prevention plans.

A proposed senate bill would require hospitals to report violent workplace incidents to Cal/OSHA and to make those statistics available online. It would also force hospitals to have prevention programs and annual training in place.

However, the California Hospital Association said the proposed bill only duplicates existing law, calling it “vague, costly” and “not grounded in hospital safety/security principles.”

The bill, SB-1299, was introduced by state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles), who is running for secretary of state and lists on his website the California Nurses Association among his endorsers.

Hospital workers and state lawmakers are set to meet Thursday, after a pair of attacks on nurses at UCLA medical facilities on the same day.

The first attack took place at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar just after 2 a.m. Sunday. A nurse was stabbed in the torso by a 26-year-old man who ran past a weapons screening area, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He was arrested and the nurse was in critically hurt.

The second attack happened a few hours later at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance when a man grabbed a nurse from behind and stabbed her in the ear with what was believed to be a pencil. The 38-year-old attacker was arrested and the nurse was treated for non-life-threatening injuries, sheriff’s officials said.

At California State University, Long Beach, one of the required courses for all nursing students is a class in non-violent crisis intervention.

Some students said they never thought it would be part of their mandatory curriculum, but they have learned now to negotiate with angry patients and deflect a physical fight.

“It’s a job we all love and you just want to come to work and do it and be safe,” said Margie Keenan, a nurse of 40 years.

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