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California considers increasing penalties for hospital assaults

Healthcare facilities can be emotionally unpredictable workplaces. Tensions can run high as the workers inside rush to save lives and prevent further catastrophes from happening to the victims. As a result, healthcare professionals are at a high risk of being assaulted by patients or the people accompanying them.

In the last decade, healthcare workers and California lawmakers have debated how much protection doctors and nurses should receive and how much punishment assailants deserve. Earlier this year, legislators introduced Assembly Bill 329, which aims to punish unruly patients and to provide additional protection to healthcare providers.

Prison for patients

If passed, Assembly Bill 329 mandates up to one year of prison time and $2,000 in fines for people who assault doctors or nurses. While similar laws already exist, they only apply to healthcare workers outside of a hospital, such as paramedics and emergency medical technicians.

This isn’t the first time someone has proposed this legislation within the last few years. Former Governor Jerry Brown rejected a similar bill in 2015. He didn’t believe there was enough evidence that putting attackers in jail would better protect hospital employees.

An increasing threat

Unfortunately, recent studies show that hospital violence is not decreasing. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, nearly half of emergency physicians claim to have been physically assaulted at work. These unacceptable numbers are leading many healthcare workers and lawmakers to support the proposed legislation. Even if it doesn’t become law, it does demonstrate how Californians are becoming increasingly aware of the issue.

If you or a loved one has been injured at a healthcare facility, consider reviewing your case with a workers’ compensation attorney to see if you are eligible for benefits.

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