Wisconsin makes threatening healthcare workers a felony

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed a bill into law March 23 that makes it a felony to threaten a healthcare worker. 

The legislation 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 a 2020 law that makes battery against a nurse, an emergency medical care provider or an individual working in an emergency department a felony.

"Threats against healthcare workers cause hospital staff to choose between caring for patients in the hospital or leaving the hospital altogether," Wisconsin Hospital Association President and CEO Eric Borgerding said in a news release. "With significant workforce challenges in Wisconsin hospitals, we cannot afford to lose providers because they fear threats in the workplace. Today's new law will send a strong message to the public that threats against healthcare workers are taken seriously and not tolerated in Wisconsin."

Under the new law, which also applies to family members of healthcare workers, violators would face up to six years in state prison, a fine of up to $10,000 or both.

The Wisconsin Assembly passed the legislation Feb. 23 and the state Senate passed it in early March. 

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