Karen Coughlin is advocating for legislation that addresses workplace violence in healthcare facilities. She believes it should be mandatory for these facilities to assess the risk factors associated with workplace violence and create a plan with input from direct care staff on how to address it. This plan should be reevaluated annually. Additionally, there should be reporting mechanisms in place so that data can be collected and shared with the Department of Public Health. Currently, hospitals are reluctant to report incidents, but there should be penalties and reporting requirements to ensure accountability. Victims of workplace assault should also be given time off to address the issue if they decide to press charges. Coughlin supports legislative bills that would increase penalties for workplace assaults against healthcare workers.
While Massachusetts does not currently have laws making workplace violence against healthcare workers a felony, 32 other states do. In total, 38 states have laws addressing workplace violence against healthcare workers and nurses. Coughlin emphasizes that the presence of a measurable and enforceable workplace violence prevention program leads to increased quality of care, decreased incidents of violence, and a more comfortable work environment. This, in turn, helps with staff recruitment and retention. Coughlin believes that healthcare workers should feel supported and have the ability to work through workplace violence incidents with the support of administrators, employers, and colleagues.