Rep. Larry Buckshon: Reducing Workplace Violence

The cost of workplace violence to hospital workers can be enormous. These episodes of violence make it difficult for our country’s doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers to keep patients at the center of their work. They may also deter the next generation of talented young students from choosing medicine as a career, further exacerbating an already dire shortage.

The risk of harm from violent incidents has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many hospitals are tottering around trying to fill jobs, and the remaining staff is facing historic levels of stress and burnout. At the same time, we are seeing a spike in violence in our hospitals, with 1 in 10 nurses reporting increased difficulty reporting these incidents. This strain, caused by the global health crisis, has placed an unprecedented burden on our medical community and has been the catalyst for a decades-long problem that we must address.

There is currently no federal law protecting hospital employees from assault and intimidation. That’s why I’ve teamed up with Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pennsylvania) to introduce the Violence Protection for Healthcare Workers (SAVE) Act, which will establish federal remedies to help contain violence in our nation’s hospitals and other healthcare facilities and keep those lives alive. important institutions are safer and more reliable. Local law enforcement go out of their way to keep everyone safe, but are often overwhelmed and deserving of all the support they can get.

This bill, modeled on similar protections for airline and airport workers, would specifically criminalize assault or intimidation of hospital employees, as well as protect individuals who may be mentally incapacitated due to illness or substance use. Increased punishment for those who deliberately attack and intimidate hospital staff will prevent further violence and ensure future offenders are properly punished for their crimes. I hope that with federal protection, we can mitigate the increase in violence against our healthcare professionals to protect our doctors, nurses, and other caregivers, as well as patients, family members, and others in our healthcare facilities.

As I travel around my neighborhood, I keep hearing stories from caregivers who have been abused or abused at work. We cannot let this remain a reality. Healthcare workers and patients need to be confident that hospitals are places where illness is treated and pain is reduced, not where people should be afraid.

I strongly believe that the SAVE Act, if passed, will help protect our nation’s healthcare workers by reducing workplace violence. As a result, patients will receive better care. This is a real problem facing our country, and we need to take additional steps to address it.

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