3 Texas Legislative Bills Passed to Make the Workplace Safer for Healthcare Workers

The Texas Nurses Association announced this week that three bills were passed to crack down on healthcare workplace violence. This article covers what the bills include and what national legislation is proposed to provide protections for healthcare workers. News


The Texas Nurses Association announced in May 2023 that three Texas Legislative bills were passed to crack down on healthcare workplace violence.  Violence in the United States has increased at alarming rates in the past few years.  Workplace violence against nurses, in particular, is a critical threat.  Many hospitals reported an uptick in violence that started during Covid and has continued to escalate. 

Shootings Spark Texas Legislative Bills

These three Texas bills were passed in response to the horrendous shooting at the Methodist Dallas hospital that occurred in October 2022, in which a nurse and a social worker were killed.

The prevalence of workplace violence (WPV) for healthcare workers far exceeds that of any other industry.  Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in healthcare and social services industries are five times more likely to be injured than workers in other industries.  WPV can include anything from threats to verbal abuse to physical assault, even homicide.  From 2011 to 2018, the rate of injuries from violent attacks against medical providers increased by 68%.

What the Texas Bills Include

  • SB 840 is named the Jacqueline "Jackie" Pokuaa and Katie "Annette" Flowers Act in memory of the social worker and nurse shot and killed at their place of employment. This bill increases the penalty for assaulting any healthcare worker from a misdemeanor to a felony.  Earlier legislation offered this type of penalty only for nurses working in the emergency department. 

  • SB 1004 increases the penalty for removing an electronic monitoring device if the individual was ordered to wear one as part of community supervision, parole, mandatory supervision, or release on bail.  In the Methodist Dallas Hospital attack, the criminal who shot the healthcare workers should have been wearing an ankle monitor but cut it off before going to the hospital.
  • SB 240 is named the Workplace Violence Prevention Bill.  It mandates the following: that a workplace violence prevention plan be implemented in healthcare facilities; that a facility committee be formed; that WPV data be tracked; and that annual WPV training be conducted for employees.  The committee must include at least one nurse whose role includes direct patient care at that facility.  The bill also includes a process to protect employees from retaliation by the facility for reporting incidents of WPV.

What Legislation Still Needs to be Passed

At the Congressional level, the Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) Act (H.R. 7961) was introduced in June 2022 which aims to provide federal protections for healthcare workers experiencing violence and intimidation in their workplace settings.  It also provides funding for implementing workplace violence prevention programs, coordinating with law enforcement, and improving security and technology to provide a safer environment.  The Act is currently in the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.  To support this act, contact your U.S. representative today to ask them to cosponsor H.R. 7961. By taking a stand together, we can make the workplace safer.

Cristina C. has 11 years experience and specializes in Medical Writing and Research.

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Jennifer Romans, BSN, RN

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Specializes in Health Writer, Registered Nurse. Has 22 years experience.

This is great news for healthcare workers and their safety. There is still so much work to be done to protect healthcare staff.