Wisconsin moves closer to making threatening healthcare workers a felony

The Wisconsin Assembly passed legislation Feb. 23 that would make it a felony to threaten a healthcare worker. 

The bill makes it a felony to commit battery against or threaten a healthcare worker "if the battery or threat is in response to an action taken by the healthcare provider in his or her official capacity, or in response to something that happened at the healthcare facility." It expands on an existing 2020 law that made battery against a nurse, an emergency medical care provider, or an individual working in an emergency department a felony.

Under the new legislation, which also applies to family members of healthcare workers, violators would face three years in prison plus three years of extended supervision, a fine of up to $10,000, or both, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association has supported the legislation. 

"Over the past decade, levels of violence and threats of violence toward staff in hospitals have reached an all-time high. These workers answered a calling to care for their neighbors," WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding said in a statement. "They now need us to care for them. The … legislation … clarifies in state law that threats of violence against healthcare workers are not tolerated in Wisconsin."

The measure still needs to pass the Wisconsin Senate.

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