Police are investigating the report of a stabbing on Monday morning at Physicians Regional Medical Center in North Knoxville, Tenn.
The attack is just the latest that's taken place at a hospital in America. The trend has led states, healthcare groups and providers to work at implementing anti-violence efforts and passing legislation to protect healthcare workers.
A hospital spokesman said the stabbing happened around 6:30 a.m. Monday. Knoxville Police Department said the alleged attacker was Gary Michael Smallwood, 40, and a patient at Physicians Regional.
Smallwood was armed with scissors and a knife, police said. One male nurse and one female nurse suffered non-life threatening injuries in the incident, police said. The female nurse suffered a puncture wound to her upper chest, while the male nurse had more significant injuries and lacerations that occurred in a struggle over the knife, police said.
The attacker is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder.
Both nurses attacked are in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery, a hospital spokesman said.
Hospital officials are investigating what happened in the moments leading up to the stabbing and police said they aren't sure what motivated Smallwood to attack the staff.
Protecting the safety of healthcare workers has been at the forefront of healthcare associations around the country.
The Massachusetts Nurses Association is pushing a state bill that would mandate plans to protect employees from workplace violence, and the union president and several other members testified in July at a Massachusetts state hearing.
The proposal from the union, an affiliate of National Nurses United, calls for facilities to perform a risk assessment of current conditions and safeguards, come up with a plan to train employees and prevent escalations, and assign a senior manager and in-house crisis response team to intervene in violent situations and provide support to employee-victims.
The bill requires that these plans be made in conjunction with employees and labor officials.
The bill was introduced not long after Massachusetts General Hospital surgeon Dr. Michael Davidson was shot and killed by a man who was upset with how Davidson treated his mother, a patient of the doctor's.
The Oregon state legislature considered a bill last year that would make it a felony to intentionally or knowingly cause physical injury to an employee at a state hospital or mental institution.
And in New York, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in August 2014 fined Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, a 790-bed hospital in New York, $78,000 because of dozens of incidents in which patients and visitors assaulted employees. One of the most egregious events left a nurse with severe brain injuries.
An estimated 572,000 nonfatal violent crimes occurred against people age 16 or older while they were at work or on duty, a 2011 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics found.
About 10% of victims of workplace violence were in medical settings, the report found. Nurses reported being grabbed, hit, spit on and bitten, often by patients who were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or who needed psychiatric care, according to a 2009 Emergency Nurses Association report looking at what occurred in more than 700 hospital attacks.
Presently, there is no federal standard that requires workplace violence protections, according to the American Nurses Association.