On July 1, a new law took effect in Tennessee that will double the fine, to $5,000, for those assaulting a health care worker.

TN Gov. Bill Haslam signed off on the legislation — dubbed the Healthcare Workplace Violence Law — earlier this month. It was sponsored by the Tennessee Nurses Association with support from the American Nurses Association.

Fifteen healthcare workers out of every 10,000 experience an incident of violence in the workplace, a rate more than three times the total for the rest of the private industries. From 2003 to 2009, almost half of all non-fatal workplace violence incidents occurred in healthcare settings, most inflicted by patients.

Nineteen other states (AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, HI, IL, NE, NV, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, TN, VT, VA, and WV) have similar laws that increased the fines for workplace violence against healthcare providers, while nine (CA, CT, IL, ME, NJ, NY, OR, WA and WV) have additional legislation mandating healthcare employers establish workplace violence prevention programs and reporting policies.