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Can violence-related workplace injury in health care be limited?

In June this year, a standing committee of the House of Commons tabled a report with several recommendations to address violence aimed at health care workers in British Columbia and across Canada. For decades, violence-related workplace injury victims had to handle it as par for the course, and the aim is to put a stop to that mindset. A report by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Union indicates that over 60% of nurses say they have been victims of harassment, assault and abuse while on duty.

Authorities say the intensity and number of attacks continue to grow. The report recommends a Criminal Code amendment by which the court must consider assault on a health care worker as an aggravating circumstance when sentencing an offender. Further recommendations include the upgrading of long-term health care facilities and staffing shortages.

According to the report, specific areas in the health-care sector are more vulnerable than others. While the needs of long-term care and psychiatric patients make those facilities significantly more dangerous for workers than other sectors, community care and home care pose similar hazards. Nevertheless, emergency departments have been named top on the list for threats of attacks on health care workers.

Health care workers in British Columbia who are victims of assaults or attacks by patients of medical facilities will be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. An experienced lawyer can help with the navigation of such a claim. However, the victim might also have grounds to file a third-party lawsuit in a civil court against the person who caused the workplace injury. An experienced lawyer can advise as to the viability of such a claim and the potential benefits of choosing one route or the other.

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