By Alexandra Cobb Hains
Attorney, Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson, L.L.P. (LDA events partner)
Effective August 1, 2022, La. R.S. 40:2199.11 through 2199.19 create a number of new requirements for healthcare facilities directed towards addressing, mitigating, and preventing workplace violence. “Workplace violence,” as defined in the legislation, means violent acts, including battery or the intentional placing of another person in reasonable apprehension of sustaining battery, directed toward persons at work or on duty with their employment. The legislation was named the “Lynne Truxillo Act” in honor of a registered nurse who died as a result of her efforts to save a colleague who was being physically attacked by a patient.
The legislation covers a wide-range of “regulated entities” which include adult day health care facilities; behavioral health services providers; ambulatory surgery centers; case management providers; urine drug screening provider; home health agencies; hospices; hospitals; nursing homes; rural health clinics; intermediate care facilities for people with developmental disabilities (ICF/DD); end stage renal disease facilities; outpatient abortion facilities; psychiatric residential treatment facilities; children's respite care centers; pediatric day health care facilities; community-based care facilities; and free-standing birth centers.
“Regulated entities” also include federally qualified health centers, pharmacies, and any office of a healthcare provider at which five or more “healthcare professionals” treat patients and is not otherwise licensed by the state but provides healthcare services delivered by a licensee of a healthcare professional licensing board. To determine if an office has five or more “healthcare professionals,” “healthcare professional” means a person licensed or certified by the State of Louisiana to provide healthcare or professional services as a physician, physician assistant, dentist, registered or licensed practical nurse or certified nurse assistant, advanced practice registered nurse, certified emergency medical technician, paramedic, certified registered nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner, respiratory therapist, clinical nurse specialist, pharmacist, optometrist, podiatrist, chiropractor, physical therapist, occupational therapist, licensed radiologic technologist, licensed clinical laboratory, licensed professional counselor, certified social worker, or psychologist.*
The new legislation requires:
- Facilities to post signage which states that abuse or assault of healthcare staff will not be tolerated and could result in a felony conviction. Each sign must conform with the following specifications:
- Be posted in conspicuous location in a publicly accessible area;
- Be at least 18 inches tall x 18 inches wide; and
- Be written in English with letters not less than one square inch in size.
- Facilities must develop and maintain a workplace violence prevention plan that includes:
- Resources for ongoing education on the issue of workplace violence;
- Resources for preventing workplace violence; and
- Resources for responding to incidents of workplace violence and debriefing with respect to such incidents and responses.
- The workplace violence prevention plan must address and encompass all of the following:
- Personnel education and policies requiring all healthcare workers who provide direct patient care to patients to receive, at least annually, education and training in a format that provides an opportunity for interactive questions and answers with a person knowledgeable about the workplace violence prevention plan. The education and training shall cover topics including but not limited to:
- How to recognize the potential for violence to occur;
- When and how to seek assistance to prevent or respond to violence;
- How to report violent incidents to law enforcement; and
- Resources available to employees for coping with incidents of workplace violence.
- A system for responding to, and investigating, violent incidents and situations involving violence.
- A system for regularly, and not than annually, assessing and improving upon factors that may contribute to or help in preventing workplace violence. This system shall address, without limitation, all of the following aspects of the workplace:
- Staffing, including staffing patterns that may contribute to, or be insufficient to address, the risk of violence.
- Sufficiency of security systems including alarms, emergency response systems, and availability of security personnel.
- Job design, equipment, and facilities.
- Security risks associated with particular units of the workplace, areas of the facility with uncontrolled access, late night or early morning shifts, and areas surrounding the facility such as employee parking areas.
- A requirement that the regulated entity maintain and make available to its employees a written safety and security plan.
The legislation also requires healthcare facilities to report all instances of workplace violence and prohibits any adverse employment action being taken against an employee who reports an instance of workplace violence.
*This legislation only applies to dental offices at which five or more dentists treat patients.