Federal protection for healthcare employees

Congress has introduced a bill, Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) to offer the same legal protections to health care professionals against assault and intimidation that aircraft and airport professionals currently have under federal law, including legal penalties and criminal prosecutions for those who knowingly and intentionally assault, intimidate or physically attack health care workers while they are performing their duties. The bill also established a federal grant program at the Department of Justice to augment hospitals’ efforts to reduce violence by funding violence prevention training programs, coordination with state and local law enforcement and physical plant improvements, such as metal detectors and panic buttons.

According to bucshon.house.gov, while hospitals and health systems typically have protocols to detect and deter violence on their property, there have been growing incidences of violence inside our nation’s hospitals in recent years. Disruptions caused by violence and intimidation in healthcare settings can prevent hospital staff from providing the best possible care and only worsen the record levels of stress and burnout being reported by our nation’s healthcare workers.

The bill states, “Workplace violence in hospitals inhibits hospital employees from performing their duties and thereby disrupts the delivery of healthcare services and leads to adverse patient outcomes. Violence towards hospital workers also has been associated with decreased productivity and quality of care, employee absenteeism and increased employee turnover. State and local authorities are now and will continue to be responsible for prosecuting the overwhelming majority of violent crimes in the United States, including assault and intimidation against hospital employees. These authorities can address the problem of assault and intimidation against hospital employees more effectively with greater Federal law enforcement involvement. Existing Federal law is inadequate to address this problem. … The problem of assault and intimidation against hospital employees is serious, widespread and interstate in nature as to warrant Federal assistance to hospitals to combat that activity. … In general, whoever knowingly assaults or intimidates an individual employed by a hospital, or an entity contracting with a hospital or other medical facility, during the course of the performance of the duties of such individual, and, as a result, interferes with the performance of the duties of such individual or limits the ability of such individual to perform such duties, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.”

“Whoever, in the commission of any act described in subsection (a), uses a deadly or dangerous weapon or inflicts bodily injury, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”

The bill also states that should any act of violence be committed during an emergency declaration, that person will also be fined or imprisoned not more than 20 years or both.

You can view the bill in its entirety at bucshon.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bucsho_10_xml.pdf.

The Alabama Hospital Association wholeheartedly supports the passage of this bill and will actively advocate for its passage using social media and other media. This work is part of our larger efforts through the Hospitals Against violence and #HAVHope prevention efforts. This movement is supported by Highlands Medical Center.

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