Addressing Workplace Violence in Vermont’s Hospitals
Ray Smith
/ Categories: NEWS, 2023

Addressing Workplace Violence in Vermont’s Hospitals

Violence in the workplace has long been a very really concern for healthcare workers across the country. In fact, in 2018 healthcare workers accounted for 73 percent of all nonfatal workplace injuries due to violence. 

Despite all the praise heaped on healthcare workers in the media throughout the pandemic, the sentiment didn’t always carry over into hospitals and other healthcare settings. A survey by National Nurses United found that more than eight in 10 healthcare workers experienced at least one type of violence during the pandemic. 

The Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (VAHHS) has been championing measures to protect healthcare workers as far back as 2020. In 2021, the organization convened the first meeting of the VAHHS Workplace Violence Task Force with the aim of addressing issues of violence prevention through both internal and external channels. Having identified effective practices in mitigating workplace and health care violence, the Task Force created an online Toolkit made available to hospitals across the state. It includes suggested policies, prevention and prediction strategies, signage, and violence risk assessment tools. 

Regarding efforts outside healthcare settings, VAHHS recently appeared before a joint session of the Senate Judiciary and Health and Welfare committees to urge legislative support of a new bill that would add three clauses specific to healthcare workers and healthcare facilities to Rule 3 of the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure. While the existing bill deems healthcare workers a protected class and allows for any person who assaults a healthcare worker to be imprisoned for up to a year or fined up to $1000, or both, evidence suggests that increasing penalty severity does not necessarily deter violence to a higher degree. If the new clauses are adopted, the revised bill will allow law enforcement officers to arrest someone without a warrant. This new measure is absolutely critical to both healthcare workers and patients as it allows for swift and decisive action when someone crosses the line and compromises the quality of care being provided. Equally important is the clear message the bill sends to the thousands of healthcare workers across the state that not only do we hear them, but we value them.

Workplace violence is causing serious harm to staff, patients, and families at Vermont’s hospitals and is simply unacceptable. To support this bill, contact your local legislator.


Devon Green is the Vice President of Government Relations at Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (VAHHS).

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