A news article on State of Reform online, posted February 24, 2020, showed that there was an increase in assaults on nurses at hospitals, doctor offices, and other medical places of work. In February 2020, the pandemic had barely taken hold of the public’s attention. Yet, since then, the pandemic has likely been a cause for many of the assaults since then, due to the stress of the lockdown and the mandates put on the American population.
According to the article, a research study of 377 nurses showed 66 percent in the group had been assaulted by patients and those accompanying patients, with some sustaining serious injuries. These injuries included a broken back and a fractured jaw. Other injuries include being slapped, bitten, and punched, according to this article.
As lockdowns and other social distancing mandates are now over with, we are likely to see an uptick in assaults at the medical workplace, if solutions are not found. Nurses are already quitting the profession, due to heavy-duty loads and unless more nurses and doctors are brought on staff at medical facilities across the country, there will be more assault problems occurring and more medical personnel leaving their jobs.
House Bill (HB) 2538 (2020) sponsored by Representative Amish Shah (District 24) with assistance from the Arizona Nurses Association, was drawn up to move charges up from a class 6 to class 5, upgrading the charges and results by law. While it passed the House in March 2020, no action was taken on the bill in the Senate, according to the 54th Legislature bill history page. Assaults on hospital employees and public safety employees are currently covered by AZ Rev Stat § 13-1210 (2021).
As the pandemic and various lockdowns began in March 2020, HB 2538 is likely still sitting on the books. By that time, most people were not allowed in medical centers at all unless they were patients with COVID-19 or other serious illnesses and/or injuries.
The general solution for protecting medical personnel while on the job is to hire more off-duty peace officers. While hospitals usually foot the bill for this service, the state government could also pull funds to help with the financial costs for added protection.
The other option is to restrict how many people can visit one patient at a time. For protests that may occur in front of a medical facility for one reason or another, the space currently allowed can be moved further out and barricaded with fencing. Fencing off employee parking lots is another factor for consideration so that employees feel safer moving from parking to entering the facility with their facility identification.
Workers’ compensation insurance covers all injuries occurring at the workplace. Yet, why should those who provide life-saving services to Arizona’s population worry about assaults at work in the first place? All medical personnel must follow the rules of what service can be provided and under what circumstances.
Some of the issues regarding what prescriptions are allowed to be provided for COVID-19 treatments are government-mandated. If a patient wishes for a different treatment, the patient must be moved to where that prescription is legally offered or that insurance covers financially. The system can be changed better in the court system and at the government level, even though it is not perfect. Workers’ compensation works under Arizona state laws, but changes can be made through the proper channels of creating bills to make changes as the pandemic is basically over. If a case needs immediate legal judgment, call an Arizona attorney for help.
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