On September 12th, Senators Joe Manchin and Marco Rubio introduced the Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees Act. This legislation, supported by the American Hospital Association (AHA), aims to make it a federal crime to assault healthcare workers in hospitals. Notably, the bill proposes enhanced penalties for assaults resulting in serious bodily harm. Additionally, the legislation calls for the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on the effectiveness of the law in reducing violence against healthcare professionals. It is worth mentioning that a similar bill was introduced in the House earlier this year.
In response to the introduction of this legislation, AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack emphasized the importance of providing healthcare workers with a violence-free environment. Pollack highlighted the role played by caregivers and other healthcare professionals in the nation’s healthcare system and stressed their right to safety. He further stated that hospitals have been implementing various strategies to create safer spaces for both workers and patients. These strategies range from utilizing technology and training to minimize risk, to redesigning facilities and workflow processes to prioritize safety. Furthermore, hospitals are redefining their relationships with security personnel and others to support prevention and crisis response efforts. However, while hospitals are taking steps to address violence, there is a need for federal legislation to protect healthcare workers. Pollack applauded Senators Manchin and Rubio for their leadership on this matter and expressed hope that the bipartisan legislation would be passed, viewing it as a significant step forward in protecting the healthcare workforce.