Assault on healthcare workers could be felony under new Massachusetts bill 

Massachusetts lawmakers are reviewing a bill that would elevate assaults on healthcare providers from a misdemeanor to a felony offense, reports MassLive.

Three things to know:

1. The bill would make any attack on clinicians, emergency medical technicians or ambulance attendants a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

2. At present, these types of attacks are classified as misdemeanors, which means police must witness the incident to make an arrest. Otherwise, nurses must attend a "show cause" hearing before a clerk magistrate, who decides whether to file charges.

3. Erin Johnson, BSN, RN, a nurse at Holyoke, Mass.-based Providence Behavioral Health Hospital, said the current legal process often discourages healthcare workers from pursuing charges.

"Why should a nurse who has already been the victim of violence and all that entails take his or her own personal time to pursue charges against an assailant who at the end of the day will face no real consequences for his or her actions?" she told lawmakers during a public hearing April 30.

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