Senators intro bill to make assault of hospital workers a federal crime

Bipartisan legislation that would make it a federal crime to knowingly assault hospital workers was introduced in the U.S. Senate on Sept. 12.

The Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees Act, S.2768, was introduced to the chamber of Congress by U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. 

Nearly 40 states have enacted laws to increase penalties for violence against healthcare workers, but there is no federal law to protect hospital employees from assault or intimidation. Protections enacted under the Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees, or SAVE, Act would mirror those in place for aircraft and airport workers.

The bill would increase penalties for people who knowingly assault hospital employees and contractors with a fine and/or a prison sentence of 10 years maximum. It would enhance penalties if assailants use deadly or dangerous weapons against healthcare workers, if the assault results in bodily injury, or if the assault occurs during a public emergency, upping the possible prison sentence to 20 years maximum. 

The bill provides a clause of reasonable defense if assault is performed by people with physical, mental or intellectual disabilities and the behavior is directly linked to such disability. 

Additionally, the legislation would establish a federal grant program at the Department of Justice to support hospitals' violence reduction efforts. The grant program would fund violence prevention training programs, coordination with state and local law enforcement, and physical infrastructure improvements, such as metal detectors and panic buttons.

The legislation has received support from the American Hospital Association, America's Essential Hospitals, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Emergency Nurses Association and the Florida Hospital Association. 

In April, Reps. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., and Larry Bucshon, MD, R-Ind., introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives; it was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. 

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars