Date of Award
College or School
Program or Major
Doctor of Nursing Practice
Background: Health care workplace violence is a pervasive and persistent problem, underreported, and when reported it is tolerated, excused, or ignored. Prior to the pandemic, the “normal” demands of a stressful workplace for a resilient nurse might include short staffing, a lack of resources, violence, bullying, and disruptive behaviors from patients or families. Since the pandemic, the rates of increasing healthcare violence can be attributed to several factors such as delays in care and services, reducing admissions and procedures, consistent understaffing, a lack of adequate mental health services, increased violence against women, limited or no visitor policies, low-security coverage, an increase in substance abuse during the pandemic and in the context of the current volatile and violent society: increased firearms. These ongoing issues and many others provide an opportunity for patient and visitor agitation and violence. The specific aim of this Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) health policy initiative is to collaborate with Nurse Leaders, legislators, and stakeholders in Maine to improve workplace safety for health care workers, which will support nurses and nursing practice leading to better patient outcomes and safer communities. Methods: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Health Policy Analysis and Evidence process was the guiding framework utilized for the research and implementation of this health policy initiative. Results: The health policy proposal was presented to the American Nurses Association of Maine leadership, and a Nurse leader in the state legislature to support this workplace safety initiative in healthcare facilities in Maine. A failed workplace safety proposal in the 129th legislative did not pass, and a subsequent law created barriers to safety and stakeholder collaboration resulting in significant increases in workplace violence and tragedy within the state. During the 130th legislative session, a bill to establish a workplace violence task force bill was introduced to study violence in healthcare and during the short session, a second bill was approved to finance the task force study.
Limitations: The ability to move forward with the task force agenda and testimony was contingent on a funding vote. At the time of this project, the pandemic continued which created delays in the task force funding vote to address more important initiatives. Additionally, the 2022 spring legislative session was considerably shorter due to 2022 being an election year. Due to the timing of the task force funding, the work would not begin until the new legislative session in January 2023.
Conclusion: The establishment of a funded workplace violence task force for healthcare workers in Maine is critical for safe nursing practice and optimal patient outcomes. Nationally, laws established to protect caretakers should not be lost on Maine legislators. The result of weak policy and stakeholder inaction resulted in tragedy and has allowed Maine’s health care professionals to continue working at risk. Testimony and evidence from stakeholders across the state should ensure lawmakers from both parties are educated about what truly is at stake. All stakeholders should come to a consensus about what constitutes a safe healthcare setting, and establish safe guidelines with law enforcement to keep communities and patients safe.
Forsley, Gretchen, "Workplace Violence Prevention for Nurses and Healthcare Workers in the State of Maine A Health Policy Initiative" (2022). DNP Scholarly Projects. 66.