Curbing violent assaults in healthcare facilities with Delaware legislation
DELAWARE– Healthcare workers have a 20% higher chance of being the victim of workplace violence than other workers, that’s according to healthcare company Joint Commission. But, some Delawareans are trying to curb those violent assaults with House Bill 324.
“Surprisingly to most people a hospital is the most violent workplace one can find themselves employed in,” Wayne A. Smith, President and CEO of Delaware Healthcare Association, said.
“It will demonstrate that people truly care about the safety and well being of all healthcare workers no matter what their education or training or title may be,” Marcy Jack, Chief Quality Officer at Beebe Healthcare, said.
Under current Delaware code, many professions including physicians, nurses, and EMT’s are protected under assault in the second degree. But, it doesn’t include other employees in a health system that work in close contact with patients and families such as a nursing assistant, security officers, and respiratory therapists.
“The list goes on and on,” Jack said. “They were not afforded that same protection it would be an assault in the third degree, which is a misdemeanor.”
“If a nurse had been punched in the mouth, by a patient and then a CNA had been punched in the same room by the same patient, it would’ve potentially brought different levels of charges against the assailant,” Smith said.
If the bill passes, it expands the felony offense of assault in the second degree to these other workers. Which we’re told wouldn’t just remove inequalities, but hopefully make people more comfortable with reporting violence.
“Their well being their safety and security in themselves is every bit as valuable and do protection under the law as any other category of employee,” Smith said.
“If you feel that you’re not having the same sort of protection afforded to you, that just demoralizes you,” Jack said. “Why would you report if you know no one cares? They don’t care about me and that’s so untrue.”
While this bill passed in both the House and the Senate, Jack said there were still some concerns by lawmakers.
“There were some folks that wondered about penalties, enhanced penalties for people but that’s such a broad question,” Jack said. “I mean if you’re a certain age or old there’s an enhanced penalty, if you are someone in firefighters, other people in public service and other circumstances that will have enhanced penalties.”
The bill passed the Delaware House on May 3rd and passed the Senate Wednesday. It now heads to the Governor’s desk for signature.