Violence against health workers 'can no longer be tolerated,' hospitals tell AG

Hospitals are bringing their concerns about violence against healthcare workers to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

While violence against workers at hospitals and health systems is not new — and organizations have long made efforts to reduce violence — the problem has been exacerbated during the pandemic, the American Hospital Association wrote to Mr. Garland in a March 23 letter. 

The association cited examples of violence against healthcare workers as well as research published in 2021 indicating 44.4 percent of surveyed nurses reported experiencing physical violence and 67.8 percent reported experiencing verbal abuse during the pandemic. 

"For medical professionals, being assaulted or intimidated can no longer be tolerated as 'part of the job.' This unacceptable situation demands a federal response," the letter said. 

The American Hospital Association seeks similar protections for healthcare workers as the Justice Department has for flight crews and airport workers.

Violence against healthcare workers is a subject recently highlighted by healthcare organizations across the U.S., which have asked patients to show kindness and patience to staff. It's also gaining momentum among state legislators, who have introduced bills to protect healthcare staff. In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers signed a bill into law March 23 that makes it a felony to threaten a healthcare worker. 

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