The Healthcare Workforce Coalition today announced its endorsement of the bipartisan Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) Act (H.R. 2584 / S. 2768), which aims to protect hospital employees from violence in the workplace. The Senate bill was introduced on September 12 by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). Reps. Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN-8) and Madeline Dean (D-PA-4) introduced the House bill earlier this year.
“Federal protections for hospital workers against violence are long overdue. No health care worker should fear for their safety while they work tirelessly to save the lives of others. We applaud lawmakers for taking this important step toward making hospitals a safer place and ensuring that anyone who attacks a hospital worker during the course of performing their duties is held accountable,” said Alan Morgan, CEO, National Rural Health Association.
The bill provides that anyone who knowingly assaults a hospital employee or contractor and interferes with the performance of their duties would be subject to fines and up to 10 years imprisonment. Penalties would be increased to a maximum of 20 years should the attacker use a deadly or dangerous weapon, inflict serious bodily injury, or commit an attack during an emergency declaration.
Research shows that violence against hospital workers has significantly increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, with 44 percent of registered nurses reporting they have experienced physical violence and 68 percent reporting they have experienced verbal abuse during the pandemic. Similarly, a survey of emergency department physicians found that more than eight in 10 emergency physicians believe the rate of violence in emergency departments has increased, with 45 percent saying it has greatly increased over the past five years.
“We’ve seen far too many tragedies at hospitals across the country as health care workers face an unprecedented level of violence and intimidation. Hospitals and health systems are constantly working to protect their staff, but we need help. This bill will help to ensure our physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals can focus on saving lives, without worrying about their own. Passing this bill must be a priority for lawmakers,” said Char MacDonald, Executive Vice President, Federation of American Hospitals.
The Healthcare Workforce Coalition looks forward to working with Congress and stakeholders to get the SAVE Act passed and signed into law quickly.
To learn more about the Healthcare Workforce Coalition, visit healthcareworkforce.org.