Utah Criminal Code 76-5-102.7: Assault Against Health Care Provider And Emergency Medical Service Worker–Penalty
1. A person who commits an assault or threat of violence against a health care provider or emergency medical service worker is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if:
a. the person is not a prisoner or a person detained under Section 77-7-15 ;
b. the person knew that the victim was a health care provider or emergency medical service worker; and
c. the health care provider or emergency medical service worker was performing emergency or life saving duties within the scope of his or her authority at the time of the assault.
2. A person who violates Subsection (1) is guilty of a third degree felony if the person:
a. causes substantial bodily injury, as defined in Section 76-1-601 ; and
b. acts intentionally or knowingly.
3. As used in this section:
a. “Assault” means the same as that term is defined in Section 76-5-102.
b. Emergency medical service worker” means a person licensed under Section 26-8a-302.
c. “Health care provider” means the same as that term is defined in Section 78B-3-403.
d. “Threat of violence” means the same as that term is defined in Section 76-5-107.
Steps Health Care Provider Should Take After Being Attacked
• Try to escape – If you can’t escape, yell loud enough to get help.
• Create a barrier – Put something between that person assaulting you and yourself so you might be able to escape.
• Defend yourself – You can defend yourself. You are allowed to meet the attacker with equal force to get them to stop. Some people don’t know that.
• Report the incident – Notify your facility of the assault.
• Take a leave of absence – Many people will be nervous to go back to work after an incident. If you are struggling emotionally about the trauma, people need to begin to realize that trauma and anxiety are legitimate reasons to get a leave of absence. Don’t rush back to work if you aren’t ready.
• Get support and seek help – Surround yourself with people that you trust. Consider getting trauma counseling.
How Help End Violence Against Healthcare Workers
The legislature proposed the following,
• Assault against any healthcare workers must be a felony.
• No less than two law enforcement officers must be present with offenders.
• Facilities must provide locator badges with panic buttons for victims to signal for help.
• There must be anti-retaliation protections in place so healthcare workers may receive the same basic rights as any other assault victim – the right to report to law enforcement.
How to Prevent Workplace Violence
With violence in society a growing problem, the importance of taking measures to prevent workplace violence has become increasingly urgent to businesses that want to protect the safety of their employees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between the years of 2011 and 2018, a total of 5,746 injuries resulting from workplace violence were reported. Of these, 3,584 were workplace homicides and 2,825 of these homicides were the result of a shooting by another person. While violence is one of the major causes of death in the workplace, nonfatal cases are more common. Overall, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration estimates there are about 2 million cases of workplace violence a year. The surprisingly high number of incidents varies between verbal and physical abuse to homicides. It is also estimated that about 25 percent of workplace violence goes unreported. These statistics are a strong reminder that violence in the workplace is more common than we might think, but workplaces can take specific measures to prevent and lessen the impact of violence. When you know how to prevent workplace violence, you can be part of the solution and make your company a safer place for all employees.
• Workplace violence prevention begins with hiring. Conducting a thorough background check on potential employees (after they access a job offer) can reveal whether the candidate has a violent past. If something comes up, ask for an explanation and make sure it’s consistent with the report. They that have a recent violence conviction, you may decide to retract the job offer to avoid that kind of behavior in your workplace.
• Create a policy that prevents harassment. Harassment is repeated persecution, bullying and/or troubling behavior that intimidates others. It creates an offensive work environment and the behavior often serves as a warning for violence. That’s why creating a policy to prevent harassment is a crucial step in preventing the possibility of violence. This policy should include a set of procedures that addresses any workplace complaints efficiently and privately. While creating this policy, it’s important to involve each level of the facility, including managers, employees, and executives. Keep all individuals informed by distributing the new policy across your organization and take the time to ensure every employee understands it.
• Create an effective line of communication. Effective communication is a key factor in preventing workplace violence. If your employees have access to a workplace communication network, it can help them understand, recognize and report the early signs of potential violence, rather than passively sweeping them under the rug in favor of getting back to work. Giving them access to conflict-resolution resources makes them feel more responsible to communicate. Also, providing an open line of communication to management, HR and other key members of your company will help create an environment where employees can make sure their grievances are heard and properly responded to.
• Training and awareness are key factors in workplace violence prevention. Take the time to have training sessions about how to respond to a violent incident so your staff knows how to react when it occurs.
• Establish a strict anti-violence policy. Prevent workplace violence by creating firm policies that empower your team to report violent and harassing behaviors and other signs of danger. This kind of policy eliminates undesirable employee behavior and leaves no room for favoritism managers must apply swift and consistent punishment no matter who violates the policy. Make sure all employees are aware of the consequences for violating the policy.
• Encourage your employees to accept individual differences. Personality clashes or leadership style differences exist in every workplace. If left unresolved, these issues could result in job dissatisfaction or depression, and even violence (in the form of verbal abuse, sabotage, or worse). Persistent issues result in high turnover and culture problems or your organization. Help negate conflict by organizing activities to help the tea get to know each other, and acknowledging differences as positive attributes. This could help people see that their individual differences play a vital role in the team’s strengths as a whole.
• Manage visitors and provide security monitoring. Monitoring visitors and managing them when possible is a smart way to prevent violence in the workplace. Whether security guards are patrolling your facility/parking lot, capturing video surveillance, or overseeing a visitor check-in desk, these are all extra layers of security that can deter someone from performing a violent incident. This is especially important in situations where people work alone or in confined spaces, or provides services involving money or alcohol. Also consider providing after hours escorts for workers in parking lots who become easier targets when alone.
• Encourage everyone to report any and all violent incidents. A great way to start preventing workplace violence is to establish trust between you and your employees. Ensure your employees of the confidentiality in which they can report incidents, and assure each of them that no retaliation will be made against anyone reporting acts of violence.
• Deter robbers with limited assets on hand. Workplace violence often occurs in conjunction with crimes like robbery and shoplifting. In fact, 85 percent of workplace homicides fall into this category where the criminal has no known relation to the business or its employees. You can reduce the risk of robbery and potential violence by keeping the amount of assets at your facility to a minimum. Use electronic pay systems to reduce cash on hand and install a locked drop safe. It may also help to keep your facility well lit and ask law enforcement officers to visit occasionally. Always be alert and pay attention to customers acting strangely.
• Identify organizational risk factors that could lead to violence. What areas or concerns in your organization are potential risk factors that could lead to workplace violence? When combined with the stress of a personal situation employees bring to work, they may become aggressive and lash out. Assess your operation to become aware of these factors like working while understaffed, inadequate security, the perception that violence is tolerated or that victims are unable to properly report incidents, and many others.
• After an incident or near miss, perform a thorough analysis. In the event that your workplace does experience a violent situation or is able to prevent one from occurring, follow up with an analysis. Who was affected and what, if any, warning signs were present? Were existing procedures and operations followed and if not, why? Were team members adequately trained? What new procedures and operations would help to improve staff safety and security? Answering these questions can help you modify your existing plans and ensure your business is able to effectively prevent workplace violence.
There are some instances where the hospital, facility or even a patient will harm a nurse for one reason or another to include policies, accidents and intentional harm. In these circumstances, the nurse often needs to know how to move forward, what to do to seek recovery options and which choices are possible in the legal world. Nurses and nursing staff work in one of the most dangerous industries in the country. No matter what day they work, there are many hazards both at work and when treating patients that each nurse must confront. These can range from patients that have an imbalance or impairment to the sharp objects that can quickly and easily cut the skin. If equipment or tools slip and fall, they can slice open the nurse immediately. These dangers are everywhere in a hospital, and clinics equally have the same dangers. If working for a private practice, nurses still run into the same types of risks. A personal injury case is possible for anyone that suffers bodily harm at the hands of another person or company that is responsible for the damage. This then progresses to a lawsuit when the plaintiff requires compensation for recovery. The other party’s negligence is then an issue that the victim will need to prove to the judge or jury panel. Evidence and a legal argument presented will help to prove or disprove the claim. Generally, there are numerous rules that apply to these claims and can prevent a nurse from litigation against his or her employer.
Negligence and the Hospital
There are elements of a negligence case. For a nurse to sue a hospital, he or she will need to prove that the facility owes a duty of care to the nurse. This exists in the professional guidelines and conduct along with the employment agreement to the organization. The duty of care is what should prevent the facility from letting dangers go unnoticed or from keeping criminals contained. The nurse can sue the hospital for negligence when there is a breach of the duty of care. The other elements must also exist along with a detailed explanation from the legal team.
The Elements of the Negligent Claim
With the duty of care comes a breach. This occurs when the facility knows of danger but does nothing to remove it. Injuries that happen through negligence often lead to lawsuits where the victim can pursue compensation for a full recovery. With the breach, the plaintiff must explain the causation between the breach and any injury sustained. The injury must become significant to seek compensation through litigation. With the services of a lawyer, the nurse can detail the injury, incident and how the hospital or other party is responsible for damages.
Who to Sue
Based on the evidence of either negligence or a breach of the duty of care, the nurse may have one or more individuals or entities to sue. For a patient that attacks and injures the nurse, he or she can sue the patient and either obtain awards through insurance or by a direct attack on the person. However, the facility that has protections in place may not ensure the prevention of such incidents. This could lead to a lawsuit against the hospital or clinic. Then, the nurse will need a greater strength of evidence to pursue the claim legally in the courts.
Evidence and the Lawyer’s Help
By proving the elements of negligence, the nurse or Health worker can effectively sue the patient or hospital that employs him or her. This requires evidence. It is possible to acquire video surveillance captures of the accident or intentional damage. With witness statements, the video and a strong claim, the nurse can provide the courtroom with all necessary and relevant details and proof. With a lack of safety protocols in place, the hospital or clinic could face liability and owing damages to the nurse. The monetary compensation is necessary for recovery and to ensure the nurse can become whole after the injury.
Almost hand in hand with delayed care is another one of the most common causes – misdiagnosis. When a patient is misdiagnosed it can be months before they receive the proper diagnosis and the proper treatment to go with it. Treatment for a misdiagnosed illness can actually hinder recovery, causing more problems than there were to start with. There have been thousands of cases of misdiagnosis, in which the doctor or medical staff have failed to notice a serious disease, such as cancer, before it is too late. Misdiagnosis is not always life threatening, but it can have a big impact on the patient’s mental and physical well-being. Misdiagnosed fractures and infections are becoming increasingly common. Doctors are squeezed for time and will routinely miss things. Fortunately, it is rare that it causes a patient undue suffering.
On the list of ‘never event’ mistakes (errors which should never happen) and also on the list of most common causes is medication errors. Whether it be that a patient has been prescribed too much of a medication or the wrong medication altogether; the effects of these errors can be devastating. There have been cases in the last year in which patients have had their painkiller dosages doubled, to a fatal amount, due to simple carelessness of the medical staff. Medication errors are seen as ‘never event’ mistakes, yet this hasn’t stopped them from creeping into the top clinical negligence claim causes in the Utah.
Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506