The California Occupational Health and Safety Standards Board is considering regulations that would apply to all health care workers in the state, in any setting.
Facilities would have to create violence prevention plans and maintain adequate staffing to implement the plans at all times.
Emergency room nurse Laurel Goodreau was attacked by a patient last year.
"She punched me multiple times in the face, broke my nose, left me with two black eyes and significant facial swelling and a lot of emotional trauma," she says.
Goodreau says the regulations may prevent similar attacks in the future.
Elsa Monroe agrees. She is a nurse at San Quentin State Prison and says such regulations would have helped her after a colleague threw a set of heavy keys at her.
"CalOSHA would have been there, interviewed the nurse, interviewed custody, would have gotten that other nurse who ran away and hid and would have interviewed the supervisor," she says.
Critics of the rules say they are too broad in scope.
The regulations must be in place by July.