The Illinois Health Care Violence Prevention Act, 210 ILCS 160/1 et seq., went into effect on January 1, 2019. The act, which is designed to address the risks of workplace violence against nurses and other health care workers, requires health care providers to comply with workplace safety requirements and create a workplace violence prevention program. The act also sets forth procedures for providing medical care to “committed persons,” meaning individuals who are incarcerated, under arrest, detained, or otherwise under the physical control of a custodial agency. The act is a response to recent violent hospital incidents involving inmates, including one in which an inmate receiving treatment stole a guard’s gun, took two nurses hostage and sexually assaulted one, before being shot by police.
The act requires health care providers to display a notice stating that verbal aggression will not be tolerated and that physical assault will be reported to law enforcement. In the event of an incident of workplace violence caused by patients or their visitors, employers must offer immediate post-incident services for any health care worker directly involved, such as acute treatment and access to a psychological evaluation. Employers cannot discourage health care workers from contacting law enforcement or filing a police report because of workplace violence. Additionally, any health care worker who contacts law enforcement or files a police report because of workplace violence must provide notice to the management of the health care provider within three days.
The act also requires health care providers to create a workplace violence prevention program that complies with OSHA guidelines for preventing workplace violence for health care and social service workers and also includes:
a) A description of the four classifications of workplace violence as set forth in the act;
b) Management commitment and worker participation, including but not limited to nurses;
c) Worksite analysis and identification of potential hazards;
d) Hazard prevention and control;
e) Required safety and health training with required hours, to be determined later by rule; and
f) Record-keeping and evaluation of the violence prevention program.
Though Illinois regulatory bodies are expected to issue more specific details through rulemaking, they have not yet done so. In any event, health care providers should not wait for rules to be promulgated before complying with the posting requirement and tweaking their current policies and violence prevention programs to comply with the act.