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Illinois Health Care Violence Prevention Act

Illinois is joining a growing number of States (e.g. California; Connecticut; Minnesota; New Jersey, and New York) in enacting specific legislation designated to address workplace violence in the Healthcare Industry. Effective January 1, 2019, the Health Care Violence Prevention Act (210 ILCS 160/1, et seq.) has become effective in the State of Illinois and mandates that hospitals and other healthcare providers and “custodial agencies” comply with very specific requirements aimed at protecting their workers from violence.

Healthcare providers must post a notice stating that verbal aggression will not be tolerated and that physical assaults must be reported to law enforcement. Healthcare providers will be required to implement a Workplace Violence-Prevention Program in compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines for preventing workplace violence for healthcare and social services workers. The program must include the four (4) classifications of workplace violence as set forth in the Act:

Type 1 Violence – Workplace violence committed by a person who has no legitimate business at the worksite.

Type 2 Violence – Workplace violence directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, visitors, or other individuals accompanying a patient.

Type 3 Violence – Workplace violence against an employee by a present or former employee, supervisor, or manager.

Type 4 Violence – Workplace violence committed by someone who does not work at the facility, but is known to have a personal relationship with an employee.

The program must also have a worksite analysis on identification of potential hazards and safety and health training for personnel.

In addition to imposing duties to prevent workplace violence, the legislation also creates obligations in the event that violence occurs. When a patient or a patient’s visitor causes the violence, the healthcare provider is required to offer immediate post-accident services, which may include acute treatment and access to psychological evaluation to any healthcare worker directly involved. Management cannot discourage a healthcare worker from contacting law enforcement or filing a police report in response to any workplace violence.

There is an obligation on the part of the healthcare worker who is contacting law enforcement to notify management within three (3) calendar days of the filing of such a report. There is also a specific reference in the legislation to the Illinois Whistleblowers Act, which expands whistleblower protection to employees who take efforts to implement or enforce compliance with the Healthcare Violence Prevention Act in their workplace.

The Act also requires that “custodial agencies” (Illinois Department of Corrections; Illinois State Police; Sherriff’s Office; Correctional Institution, etc.) must abide by heightened and designated procedures that apply when taking a person into custody who is to receive medical treatment when that person taken into custody poses a significant risk to others. These requirements shall establish “a curriculum for custodial escort and custody of a high risk person” (210 ILCS § 160/335) that must include handcuffing and/or shackling a person and other custodial considerations.

Obviously, this new legislation will create a number of obligations going forward and will be subject to “Court Interpretations” as fact situations develop. Stay tuned because this legislations and its implications may be costly!

Questions? Contact Attorney Walter Liszka in our Chicago office at (312) 629-9300 or by email at waliszka@wesselssherman.com

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