WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representatives Madeleine Dean (D-Penn.-04) and Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-Ind.-08) 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 create legal penalties for individuals who knowingly and intentionally assault or intimidate hospital employees.

While hospitals and health systems typically have protocols to detect and deter violence on their property, there have been growing incidences of violence inside our nation’s hospitals in recent years. In fact, approximately two nurses were assaulted every hour in Q2 of last year, according to an analysis by Press Ganey. Disruptions caused by violence and intimidation in healthcare settings can prevent hospital staff from providing the best possible care and only worsen the record levels of stress and burnout being reported by our nation’s healthcare workers.

Currently, there is no federal law that protects hospital employees from assault and intimidation. This bill mirrors protections enacted for aircraft and airport workers and 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.

“Especially over the past three years, we have seen how vital healthcare workers are for our communities”, Rep. Dean said. “The protections in the SAVE Act already exist for other workforces, like commercial flight crews, and extending these protections to hospital employees is simply the right thing to do. Healthcare workers do so much for us – the least we can do in return is try to ensure they feel safe going to work every day.”

“As a practicing physician for more than 15 years, I know just how critical it is to ensure that our nation’s hospitals are safe environments, so our physicians, nurses, and other healthcare personnel can best provide and care for their patients. The rapid uptick in violence against our nation’s healthcare professionals is negatively impacting their ability to provide quality care for their patients and is worsening levels of stress and burnout. 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,” Dr. Bucshon said.

“The millions of dedicated hospital workers across this country should never fear for their safety when they are working to save lives. The rise in violence, threats, and intimidation against our health care workers cannot continue and we must do more to protect them,” AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said. “Hospitals are working overtime to ensure the safety of their workforce, but they cannot do this alone. Protecting our caregivers must be a national priority and this bi-partisan bill is a major step forward in helping us do that. We commend Reps. Bucshon and Dean for their leadership on this important issue. ”

"Escalating rates of threats and violence against emergency physicians, nurses, and other health care workers add needless stress to an already-strained health care system," Christopher S. Kang, MD, FACEP, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) said. "Violence in the emergency department is exacerbating the pervasive burnout that is driving more health care workers away from and out of the workforce and threatening the health and safety of our patients in need of lifesaving care. The bipartisan SAVE Act will help ensure that federal law is further equipped to protect the health care workforce from violence, threats, and intimidation, while also better safeguarding our patients with psychiatric and substance use disorder emergencies. ACEP thanks Representatives Bucshon and Dean for their continued leadership to protect frontline health care professionals and the patients we serve."

“IHA and IONL are deeply concerned about the growing number of victims of violence in medical facilities across our country. We have launched an association-wide initiative to help improve safety in our hospitals to protect health care workers, and our state lawmakers are currently engaged in some legislative efforts. But we need a federal solution to truly change the current trajectory, and we thank Rep. Bucshon and Rep. Dean for their bold leadership in bringing this important legislation forward," Brian Tabor, president of the Indiana Hospital Association (IHA) and Mary Browning, CEO of the Indiana Organization for Nursing Leadership (IONL) said.

To view the bill text, click here.