House Bill 1931, introduced by freshman Rep. Mari Leavitt (D-University Place), would raise standards and increase the frequency of violence-prevention planning, training and record-keeping at all health-care facilities in Washington. It was scheduled for a public hearing Wednesday in the House Appropriations Committee.
The proposal, along with a companion bill in the Senate (SB 5912), recognize the risks that attend the medical profession as a whole. Health-sector workers are at least four times more likely than the average U.S. worker to face serious on-the-job violence, according to federal statistics; assailants can range from a vengeful gang member outside an emergency room to a distraught family member at a nursing home.
But the bill, while not limited to Western State, was drafted with Washington’s largest psychiatric institution in mind — and rightly so. The hospital’s safety record and quality of care have received such poor marks from federal regulators that, after three years of monitoring, they yanked its certification last summer, along with $53 million in funding.
Violence-prevention plans are nothing new; they’ve been de rigueur in Washington health-care settings for two decades. Leavitt’s bill would require they be updated every three years with employee input and an annual review of violent encounters, rather than a formulaic one-time plan that doesn’t adapt to changing workplace conditions.