The states increasing penalties for violence against hospital workers

To tackle workplace violence, lawmakers in several states are changing laws or considering changes. 

One example is Kansas, where Gov. Laura Kelly ceremonially signed a bill June 8 to increase the criminal penalties for people convicted of battery of a healthcare provider.

The law, which takes effect July 1, amends the crime of battery to define battery against a healthcare provider as "a battery committed against a healthcare provider while such provider is engaged in the performance of such provider's duty."

Under the new law, battery against a healthcare provider is now a Class A misdemeanor. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on May 24 signed a bill to enhance criminal penalties for people who knowingly commit assault or battery upon workers at a hospital. 

Beginning Oct. 1, those who assault a worker at a hospital will face a misdemeanor charge of the first degree rather than a misdemeanor charge of the second degree. 

The bill also enhances a charge for battery against a hospital worker from a misdemeanor of the first degree to a felony of the third degree; a charge for aggravated assault from a felony of the third degree to a felony of the second degree; and a charge for aggravated battery from a felony of the second degree to a felony of the first degree.

And in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation May 2 that increases penalties for people who commit violence against healthcare workers and allows hospitals to establish campus police forces.

The bill, which takes effect July 1, provides for enhanced penalties for aggravated assault and aggravated battery committed upon emergency health workers and healthcare workers while they are on a hospital campus. 

Those convicted of aggravated assault or aggravated battery upon a healthcare worker at a hospital can now face three to 20 years in prison. 

The bill also allows Georgia hospitals to form their own police departments using certified law enforcement officers. Under the bill, a peace officer employed by a hospital who is certified would have the power of arrest, and hospital security personnel who are certified could carry a standard issue firearm or weapon.

In Michigan, lawmakers are considering two bills that would raise fines if a person pleads guilty to or is convicted of assaulting a healthcare worker. 


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