The Delaware House of Representatives approved a bill, House Bill 144, sponsored by Rep. Bill Bush, D-Dover, aimed at curbing violent assaults on workers at Delaware hospitals and other health care facilities.
HB 144 expands the felony offense of assault in the second degree to anyone who intentionally causes physical injury to any person providing healthcare treatment or employed by a healthcare provider.
“Healthcare workers have dedicated their lives to caring for others, yet they are four times more likely to face serious workplace violence than in any other career,” said Wayne Smith, Delaware Healthcare Association president and CEO. “Violence against healthcare workers is increasing at an alarming rate, which is why HB 144 is needed now more than ever. We thank Rep. Bill Bush and members of the House for standing up against violence to health care workers – a top concern for Delaware hospitals.”
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the rate of serious workplace violence incidents was more than four times greater in healthcare than in private industry, and there are nearly as many serious violent injuries in healthcare as all the other industries combined. In addition, 75 percent of the nearly 25,000 workplace violence incidents reported each year occur in the healthcare and social services setting, according to OSHA.
Under Delaware Code, assault in the second degree currently applies to various professions, including physicians, nurses, but does not include numerous health system employees who come into contact with patients and families on a regular basis. These may include patient safety attendants, medical assistants and office staff, nursing assistants, physical therapists, public safety and security officers, respiratory therapists, EKG technicians, radiology technologists and so forth. HB 144 would ensure that all healthcare employees have the same protection under the law.