Oregon considers making hospital worker assault a felony

Legislation introduced in Oregon aims to address violence against hospital workers, according to The Lund Report.

\The legislation, House Bill 4088, would make it a third-degree felony to knowingly cause physical injury to a hospital worker while the worker is performing their job duties. 

The penalty already applies to assaulting a bus driver, emergency medical crew members, taxi drivers and highway flaggers, state Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis said during a Feb. 15 hearing, according to The Lund Report. Under the proposed bill, a felony charge would also apply to hospital workers, with a potential punishment of up to five years in prison and a $125,000 fine for violators.

A similar effort failed to pass the Legislature in 2022 amid concerns about criminalizing people experiencing mental illness, according to The Lund Report.

The new bill, as initially introduced, stated that a person may not be charged if the person is experiencing an intellectual disability, developmental disability, delirium, dementia, traumatic brain injury, or severe and persistent mental illness. 

However, earlier this month, the House Judiciary Committee approved an amendment removing those exceptions while leaving a narrower shield for disabled or mentally ill individuals, according to The Lund Report.

The bill is supported by groups including the Oregon Nurses Association, the Oregon Emergency Nurses Association, the Hospital Association of Oregon, and the Oregon District Attorneys Association, the publication reported. It is opposed by groups including Disability Rights Oregon, the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, the ACLU of Oregon, and the National Council on Severe Autism.

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