Medical org presidents to Congress: Pass healthcare worker violence protection bill

Association of American Medical Colleges President and CEO David Skorton, MD, and National Academy of Medicine President Victor Dzau, MD, are urging more action to address violence against healthcare workers.

Healthcare workers play a key role in keeping communities safe and healthy, but there is increased violence and intensified inflammatory rhetoric against these workers, the physicians wrote in a Sept. 30 statement.

"Such words and actions are irresponsible and dangerous and compromise the ability of health professionals to provide much-needed care to patients and communities," they added.

That's why they said they are calling on Congress to pass the bipartisan Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees Act. The legislation, which is modeled after protections for aircraft and airport workers, is aimed at protecting healthcare workers from violence. Specifically, the legislation would criminalize assault or intimidation of hospital employees and authorize legal penalties against individuals who knowingly and intentionally commit those acts, Reps. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., and Larry Bucshon, MD, R-Ind., the representatives who introduced the bill June 7, said in a news release. The legislation would also establish a grant program for hospitals to reduce workplace violence through efforts such as training staff to respond to threats and better coordination with state and local authorities.

"This nation was founded upon the ideal of civil discourse and the open-minded exploration of ideas through healthy discussion, which should be our guiding force, first and foremost," Drs. Skorton and Dzau said. "As a country, we may not agree with each other on all important issues; however, we can agree that inciting violence against other human beings is never the answer."

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