8 hospital groups support bill that would protect healthcare workers like flight crews

Eight national hospital organizations have endorsed a bill to protect healthcare workers from violence that is modeled after protections for aircraft and airport workers.

On June 14, the groups wrote a letter to U.S. Reps. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., and Larry Bucshon, MD, R-Ind. The representatives introduced the bill June 7.

"While our members have for many years had protocols in place attempting to protect their employees, the number of violent attacks against healthcare workers has increased steadily in recent years, with a sharp uptick during the COVID-19 pandemic," the groups wrote in their letter.

The letter also highlighted studies that said "in the last two years, 44 percent of nurses reported being subject to physical violence and 68 percent reported verbal abuse." 

The groups said those experiences affect "the individual caregiver, who may suffer from both physical and psychological trauma, and they can also disrupt care when providers fear for their personal safety, are distracted by disruptive patients or family members, or are traumatized from prior violent interactions." 

"These types of incidents also consume hospital and health system resources that may impact care available for other patients," they added.

The Safety From Violence for Healthcare Employees Act would criminalize assault or intimidation of hospital employees and provide legal penalties for individuals who knowingly and intentionally do so, Ms. Dean and Dr. Bucshon said in a news release. There would be protections for those who may be mentally incapacitated due to illness or substance use.  

"In addition to offering federal level protections to healthcare workers, we appreciate that the SAVE Act would provide grants to hospitals for programs to help reduce the incidence of violence in our care settings," the organizations said in their letter of support for the bill. "These grants could be used for training hospital personnel, coordinating with state and local law enforcement and purchasing of equipment or technology that will assist in creating a safer environment."

The letter is signed by America's Essential Hospitals; the American Hospital Association; the Association of American Medical Colleges; the Catholic Health Association of the United States; the Children's Hospital Association; the Federation of American Hospitals; and Premier healthcare alliance Vizient.

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