Protesting members of the Minnesota Nurses Association and other unions are asking hospitals that employ them for more protections against violence in the workplace. The Pioneer Press reports on how violent actions directed toward hospital staff by patients have increased due to the state’s changes to its criminal justice system.

Law enforcement officials in Minnesota may now send inmates who have mental illnesses to a state-run psychiatric facility with many of them choosing Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center. Safety measures at the hospital, however, have not improved and officials have purportedly failed to provide the facility’s staff with adequate security.

A greater awareness of the increase in violent assaults and harm suffered by hospital staff members came about when an Anoka Metro Regional nurse was recently attacked and severely injured. A patient was allegedly hallucinating when he asked the nurse for Tylenol and was refused. He then repeatedly punched the nurse until she fell unconscious. While the patient was charged with 3rd degree assault for his purported actions, the nurse had to be hospitalized and she required taking some time off from work to recover.

When physical or psychological harm occurs in relation to an employee carrying out their job duties, a claim for workers’ compensation may be filed. Even if an injury is the result of an employee’s own actions or inactions, he or she may still be entitled to receive financial benefits.

According to the National Safety Council, workplace violence accounts for thousands of injuries each year and is the fourth leading cause of on-the-job deaths. Reportedly, women are more prone to workplace violence, but devastating injuries may occur to anyone.