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The WHO reports that up to 38 percent of health care workers suffer violence at some point in their careers.

Those Who Seek to Harm Health Care Workers Could Face Extra Penalties

A recently introduced bill aims to give health care workers better protection by imposing stiffer penalties on those who would do them harm

Photo portrait of rachel muenz
Rachel Muenz
Photo portrait of rachel muenz

Rachel Muenz is the managing editor of G2 Intelligence and was previously senior digital content editor at Lab Manager, a publication dedicated to teaching lab professionals the management skills they need to run their laboratories as effectively as possible. She has more than 10 years of experience as a writer, editor, and curator of both print and digital content, with the majority focused on laboratory topics. Rachel holds an honors bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of Toronto and a diploma in journalism from Centennial College. Rachel regularly contributes news and insights to Today's Clinical Lab.

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Published:Jun 16, 2022
|2 min read
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The June 1 attack on a medical center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is just one recent example of violence against health care workers and institutions. In the attack, a gunman used an AR-style rifle to kill three health workers and a patient before taking his own life. According to a PBS report, the gunman’s primary target was a doctor who had recently performed surgery on the gunman, and who the gunman blamed for his continued chronic pain.

Now, the U.S. Congress is taking action. Just six days after the attack, the House of Representatives introduced the Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) Act, which has been endorsed by the American Hospital Association, among other key health care organizations. If passed, the legislation would impose additional penalties on those who intimidate, threaten, or assault health care workers. While some states have passed similar laws, there is currently no federal law protecting health care workers from physical and/or verbal threats.

"The SAVE Act will put in place legal protections to help deter violence inside our nation’s hospitals."

Since the pandemic has dragged on, health care workers have faced increased threats from conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers, and those fed up with public health measures to control the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. But, physical attacks and harassment against health care workers predate the pandemic, with numerous studies and reports that demonstrate that both verbal and physical attacks are commonplace in the field. For example, the World Health Organization reports that up to 38 percent of health care workers suffer physical violence at some point in their careers.

“Unfortunately, over the past few years, there have been increased incidences of violence taking place at our hospitals,” said U.S. Representative Larry Bucshon, a physician and co-sponsor of the SAVE Act, in a press release. “These rising levels of violence negatively impact the ability of our nation’s physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals—who are currently experiencing record levels of stress and burnout—to provide quality care for their patients. The SAVE Act will put in place legal protections to help deter violence inside our nation’s hospitals and keep these vital institutions safe and secure for patients and our nation’s health care professionals.”

To find out more, read this news story from TCL’s sister brand, G2 Intelligence.