Washington, D.C. – Today, Representatives Dean and Bucshon introduced the Safety From Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) Act. This bill, which is modeled after current protections for aircraft and airport workers – like flight crews and attendants – would provide legal penalties for individuals who knowingly and intentionally assault or intimidate hospital employees.
The incidence of hospital violence across the country has been growing in recent years. And while hospitals and health systems have protocols to detect and deter violence on their property, the toll of workplace violence on hospital employees can be immense. While physical and psychological harm are the primary consequences, disruptions caused by violence and intimidation in health care settings frequently prevent hospital staff from providing the best possible care.
Currently, there is no federal law that protects hospital employees from assault and intimidation. This bill, modeled after similar protections enacted for aircraft and airport workers, would criminalize assault or intimidation of hospital employees – with protections for individuals who may be mentally incapacitated due to illness or substance use. Enhanced penalties for those who knowingly assault and intimidate hospital employees will deter further violence and ensure future offenders are given proper punishments for their crimes.
“Violence in hospitals has been growing with increasing frequency for years,” Rep. Dean said. “This legislation will take the important 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.”
“As a practicing physician for more than 15 years, I know just how critical to patient care it is that we work to ensure that hospitals are safe environments. Unfortunately, over the past few years, there have been increased incidences of violence taking place at our hospitals. These rising levels of violence negatively impact the ability of our nation’s physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals – who are currently experiencing record levels of stress and burnout – to provide quality care for their patients. 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 health care professionals,” Dr. Bucshon said.
“Workers who dedicate themselves to saving lives deserve a safe environment – free of violence and intimidation – in which to deliver care,” AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said. “The surge in assaults against the health care workforce cannot continue and we must do everything we can to protect them. Our workforce is enduring historic levels of stress and violence as they continue to provide compassionate, quality care throughout the pandemic. Hospitals and health systems are committed to ensuring a safe work environment for our employees. We will not let up in ensuring that all hospital and health system workers feel safe in the vital work they perform.”
“We continue to hear terrifying and disheartening stories from health care workers who have been assaulted on the job,” ACEP President Gillian Schmitz, MD, FACEP said. “Just the other day, our worst nightmare were realized once again when two physicians, an employee, and a patient were killed in a medical office. Physical and verbal attacks are not tolerated in any other workplace —they should not be allowed in a health care setting. 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.”
“Hospitals are concerned about increasing reports across Pennsylvania of violence against front-line staff and medical professionals. We stand with hospital teams to prevent violence and have grieved the tragic circumstances where health care professionals have lost their lives. HAP and Pennsylvania’s hospital community thank Representatives Dean and Bucshon for championing this important legislation that will help deter violence against health care workers and enhance hospitals’ efforts to keep their employees safe,” Andy carter, President and CEO of The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania said.
“IHA and IONL mourn the loss of a growing number of victims of violence in medical facilities across our country, and we thank Rep. Bucshon and?Rep. Dean?for bringing this important legislation forward. We will continue to collaborate with our elected leaders and community partners on initiatives to improve safety in our hospitals to protect health care workers," Brian Tabor, president of the Indiana Hospital Association (IHA) and Mary Browning, CEO of the Indiana Organization for Nursing Leadership (IONL) said.
The bill is endorsed by the American Hospital Association, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), the Indiana Hospital Association (IHA), and the Indiana Organization for Nursing Leadership (IONL).
Rep. Madeleine Dean is a mother, grandmother, attorney, professor, former four-term member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and U.S. Representative for the Fourth District of Pennsylvania.