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A safe, prepared, and responsive healthcare environment is needed to protect our healthcare workforce from violence while at work. There have been several national legislative strategies to address this issue.

What can you do now? Organizations that oversee healthcare have elevated the importance of planning and addressing workplace violence. Ask your employer important questions about workplace violence. The Center for Medicare Service and JCAHO are addressing WPV when they visit your workplace setting.

Read below to learn more, and then ask your health care organization how they are meeting these standards and how you can participate!

Center for Medicare Inspectors Focusing on WPV

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a memo late last year directing inspectors of hospitals to ensure workplace violence prevention policies.

JCAHO Workplace Violence Standards

JACHO Workplace Violence Definitions and Standards:

“An act or threat occurring at the workplace that can include any of the following: verbal, nonverbal, written, or physical aggression; threatening, intimidating, harassing, or humiliating words or actions; bullying; sabotage; sexual harassment; physical assaults; or other behaviors of concern involving staff, licensed practitioners, patients, or visitors.”

  • January 2022 Workplace Violence Prevention Requirements
       Hospitals manages safety and security risks
       Hospitals collect information to monitor condition in the environment (investigating safety and incidents, including WPV)
       Staff participate in ongoing education and training (WPV prevention program)
       Leaders create and maintain a culture of safety and quality throughout the hospital

ANA’s workplace violence issue statement

"One in four nurses has been abused in the workplace. Overall, the likelihood that health care workers are exposed to violence is higher than for prison guards or police officers. The stories nurses tell are horrifying, and all too common. Every day, nurses are stabbed, punched, grabbed, kicked, verbally assaulted, or worse. Perpetrators can be patients and their family members, co-workers, supervisors and managers, and intimate partners.

Violence, unfortunately, is a workplace hazard. Abusive conduct can also undermine the quality of care nurses strive to provide every day. In 2022, the Joint Commission began to assess hospitals' plans to prevent workplace violence, through its new safety standards. This positive step could relieve some nurses of the burden of dealing with the risk of assault and abuse on the job.

Violence and abuse in health care can be prevented, with collaborative approaches. For years, ANA has led the charge to end nurse abuse, by activating nurses where they work, pushing for meaningful laws and regulations at the federal level, and supporting nurse advocates in states. Yet few health care employers have developed suitable plans to prevent workplace violence, putting nurses and others at risk daily, just for doing their job. It is of the utmost importance for nurses to be able to report abuse within their institutions. Reporting systems must also be linked to meaningful prevention programs, appropriate to the setting. Similarly, ANA continues to advocate for pathways for whistleblowers to come forward to report such abusive actions.

In April 2021, the House of Representatives passed the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, (H.R. 1195​) with bipartisan support. This bill would require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop enforceable standards  to protect employees from violent incidents in the workplace. A companion bill (S. 4182) was introduced in the Senate on May 11, 2022. ANA supports this legislation while also advocating for OSHA and the Department of Health and Human Services to use their existing authorities to address workplace violence in health care."

Two Congressional Pieces of Legislation

·       HR 1195
·       S. 4182

United States Congress: Write your Legislator to Take Action in Support of the Workplace Violence Bill


Additional Resources

ANA Official Position: American Nurses Association. Position Statement. Incivility, Bullying, and Workplace Violence. July 2015.
Accessible online at
Government Accountability Office (GAO).

OSHA:  National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Occupational violence website. Accessible online at

Workplace Safety and Health: Additional Efforts: Needed to Help Protect Health Care Workers from Workplace Violence. March 2016. Accessible online at

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines workplace violence to include “violent acts, including hysterical assault, and threats of assault, directed toward persons at work or on duty” Violence can be either verbal or physical.

Connecticut Workplace Violence PA 11-175: Workplace Violence Prevention and Response in Healthcare Settings