Health Care Facilities Prime Targets of Workplace Violence

Every year, 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence. The incidents of serious workplace violence are much more common in health care settings than in private industry.

Serious workplace violence is defined as events requiring days off for the injured worker to recover, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Health care workers are exposed to a mass of humanity and not everyone coming through the doors is a model citizen. Workers can face violence from disgruntled patients, distraught family members, and upset friends, or become innocent victims in domestic disputes.

Pennsylvania law requires these workers to display their first and last names on ID badges. That makes sense from a patient perspective: We all want to know who is providing our health care in hospitals and medical facilities, where the parade of nurses, doctors, and techs in and out of a room can become a blur.

However, social media has changed interactions and made us a more vulnerable society. A simple online search of employees’ names can yield a mountain of personal information, such as where they live and family members’ names. That information can easily help an ill-intentioned person stalk, threaten, or assault health care workers.

State Rep. Pam Snyder (D-Fayette) has introduced legislation (H.B. 39) to omit health care workers’ last names from their facility ID badges. While by itself this won’t eliminate all the dangers, it’s a large step forward in ensuring the safety and welfare of the men and women to whom we entrust our health care.

Health care workers often put their own health and safety at risk to care for their patients. Though well-intentioned, the state law requiring the display of first and last names makes it easier for these hardworking men and women to become a target of violence. It’s time to provide these employees the protection they deserve.