A bill introduced in Congress this month would create new legal penalties for people who intimidate or assault healthcare employees.
The Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) Act is modeled after protections in place for flight crews and aircraft attendants that were implemented after 9/11. The protections in the bipartisan SAVE Act were introduced by Pennsylvania Democrat Madeleine Dean and Indiana Republican Larry Bucshon, MD, in response to a spate of violence, including fatal shootings, which have taken place at medical facilities across the country in the last several months. No such laws for healthcare workers exist, according to a release from Rep. Dean’s office.
The lawmakers believe federal penalties for assaulting or intimidating hospital employees would deter future violence and ensure offenders are severely punished for their crimes. "Violence in hospitals has been growing with increasing frequency for years," says Rep. Dean. "This legislation will take the crucial step to enhance the criminal penalty for someone who knowingly and intentionally enters a hospital and assaults an employee. These tireless heroes deserve protections to ensure they are not victimized while trying to save lives."
Dr. Bucshon, a practicing physician for more than 15 years, adds that the proposed protections are important for patient care. "These rising levels of violence negatively impact the ability of our nation’s physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals — who are currently experiencing record levels of stress and burnout — to provide quality care for their patients," he says. "The SAVE Act will put in place legal protections to help deter violence insider our nation’s hospitals and keep these vital institutions safe and secure for patients and our nation’s healthcare professionals."
The bill has been endorsed by the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). "The surge in assaults against the healthcare workforce cannot continue and we must do everything we can to protect them says AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. "We will not let up in ensuring that all hospital and health system workers feel safe in the vital work they perform."
ACEP President Gillian Schmitz, MD, FACEP, adds, "Emergency physicians deeply appreciate Rep. Dean and Rep. Bucshon’s bipartisan leadership and others in Congress who are leading important efforts to protect the professionals on the front lines so that they can focus on patient care without worrying about their personal safety."