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When health care workers have to focus on their own health...

Historically, health care workers are noble and altruistic, and their patients come first. As a health care worker, would you like to get back to those times when doctors, nurses, aides and more could focus on healing or improving the health of their patients without fearing for their own safety? Sadly, with changing times, new laws are being passed to keep health care workers safe.

While much attention was paid in recent years to the threat of back injuries for hospital workers when moving and lifting patients, those who work with outpatients are facing risks of violence. The California Office of Administrative Law recently approved an update to the standards of safety and protection for health care workers who do their bit by caring for patients away from hospitals. Starting April 1, new rules about reporting and other safety issues will come into effect.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administrations says four times more violent workplace incidents occur in the health industry, compared to private industry. Alarmingly, in most violent incidents against health care workers, the patients are the sources of the violence.

What is the focus of the new safety standard?

The aim is to protect doctors and their assistants, nurses, aides and others who are at risk while visiting patients remotely. Increased protection is provided to the following entities under the new standard:

  • Home health care
  • Remote health facilities such as clinics
  • Home-based treatment such as hospice
  • Drug treatment facilities
  • Medical emergency services such as paramedics, firefighters and more
  • Outpatient services for the treatment of inmates of correctional institutions and detention centers
  • The new regulations will also cover specialized hospitals such as acute psychiatric facilities.

Violent incidents are prevalent at some of these facilities, and could even involve dangerous weapons. The new law requires employers in all these industries to establish plans to prevent workplace violence and to review such plans at regular intervals. All workers must receive training to create awareness of the risks, recognizing signs of imminent violence and preventative measures to take. The new reporting rules will require employers to maintain a log of violent incidents, and they must report those that result in injuries to authorities within prescribed times.

You might feel safer while caring for outpatients in the future, but violent behavior can be unpredictable. If you should be a victim of such an attack, you need not navigate a workers' compensation claim on your own. Professional help is available from skilled California attorneys who are experienced in advocating for injured health care workers. A seasoned lawyer can provide guidance and support throughout the administrative and legal proceedings of the benefits claims and appeal if necessary.

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