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Healthcare Employers Face New Workplace Violence Reporting Obligations

Certain Connecticut health care employers are now subject to a new annual workplace violence reporting obligation. Effective October 1, 2015, health care employers with 1) at least 50 full-time or part-time employees; and 2) programs licensed by the Department of Public Health (“DPH”), must report to DPH annually the number of intentional workplace violence incidents occurring on the employer’s premises during the preceding calendar year and the specific area or department of the employer’s premises where such incidents occurred. The first report was due to be filed with DPH by January 1, 2016. This important change in a health care employer’s external workplace violence reporting obligation was implemented as part of Public Act 15-91, which addressed hospital reporting of nurse staffing levels. The Public Act did not make any other changes to Connecticut’s existing health care workplace violence protection laws.

Employer Workplace Violence Obligations

A. Policies, Procedures, Training Programs

Since 2011, Connecticut health care employers, including home health care agencies (not companion agencies), mental health agencies, physician practices, homemaker-home health aide agencies, residential care homes, outpatient clinics, hospitals and others have been required to protect their employees from workplace violence by, among other things:

1. Establishing a workplace safety committee;
2. Developing and implementing a workplace
violence prevention and response plan, including policies and training programs to prevent and respond to workplace violence; and
3. Maintaining detailed records regarding incidents of workplace violence on the employer’s premises.

B. Patient Care Obligations vs. Protecting the Clinician

To the extent practicable, the 2011 legislation required covered employers to adjust a health care employee’s patient assignment when requested by the employee and where the employer knows that the patient has intentionally physically abused or threatened the employee. The statute provides that abusive or threatening behavior by a patient that is a direct manifestation of the patient’s condition or disability is not considered to be “intentional” and, presumably, does not constitute an incident of workplace violence for purposes of this statute.

C. Documenting and Reporting Incidents of Workplace Violence

Now, covered health care employers must report annually to DPH the number of workplace violence incidents occurring on the employer’s premises and the specific area or department where they occurred. It is important to note that:

At this point, there is no specific form for the report.
As noted above, only “intentional” incidents of workplace violence need to be reported to DPH. However, when in doubt, report it, especially if you notified the police and/or CMS or DSS.
For homecare agencies, DPH takes the informal position at this time that the patient’s residence is not considered to be the “employer’s premises” for purposes of this reporting obligation.
This reporting obligation does not replace the other reporting obligations that a health care employer may have in these circumstances, such as to OSHA or other regulatory agencies.

If you have questions regarding workplace violence laws, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney John M. Letizia at or (203) 787-7000 x 35.