As the end of the year approaches, Illinois hospitals and other health care facilities should prepare for new changes in the law, designed to address the risks of violence against nurses and other health care workers.

The Illinois Health Care Violence Prevention Act takes effect Jan. 1, 2019, and requires employers of health care workers to provide workplace violence training and comply with related safety requirements.

Specifically, the Act applies to “retail health care facilities,” (i.e., an institution, place, or building that is devoted to the maintenance and operation of a facility for the performance of health care services and is located within a retail store at a specific location, but excluding hospitals, ambulatory treatment centers, physicians’ offices and other facilities providing “limited healthcare services”), hospitals and veterans homes.

The Act requires health care facilities to:

  • Create a workplace violence prevention program. The program must not only comply with OSHA guidelines for workplace violence, but also include:

1. Classification per the statute of the types of workplace violence per the statute.

2. Management commitment and worker participation, specifically including nurses.

3. Worksite analysis and identification of potential hazards.

4. Hazard prevention and control.

5. Safety and health training.

6. Record-keeping and evaluation of the program.

  • Post notices stating that verbal aggression will not be tolerated and physical assault will be reported to law enforcement.

Health care workers who contact law enforcement or file a police report with law enforcement because of workplace violence must provide notice to management of the health care provider within three days of contact with law enforcement. Upon receipt of such notice, employers are required to offer post-incident services for any health care worker directly involved in a workplace violence incident caused by patients or their visitors. Services shall include acute treatment as well as access to psychological evaluation.

Employers are also prohibited from discouraging health care workers from contacting law enforcement or filing a police report with law enforcement because of workplace violence.

Finally, the Act also provides that the Illinois Whistleblower Act applies to health care providers and their employees with respect to actions taken to implement or enforce compliance with the Act.