Protecting Healthcare Workers: A Look at New Legislative Efforts
In recent years, the safety of healthcare workers has become a growing concern in the United States. This concern has been amplified by an alarming rise in the number of violent incidents against healthcare personnel. To address this pressing issue, two bills aimed at protecting hospital workers are currently gaining recognition and support in Congress and the healthcare community: The Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) Act and the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act.
The Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees Act
According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), instances of violent attacks against healthcare workers have risen by 63% between 2011 and 2018. The SAVE Act was introduced to address this troubling trend. Modelled after protections for aircraft and airport workers, the Act aims to criminalize assault or intimidation of hospital employees and authorize grants to reduce such incidents. The Act has received widespread support from stakeholders including the AHA and other healthcare organizations.
The SAVE Act aims to provide federal protections for hospital employees, making it a federal crime to attack healthcare workers. It authorizes penalties of up to 10 or 20 years’ imprisonment for certain acts of violence, including fines and penalties for those who assault or intimidate hospital employees. The Act also includes exceptions for individuals who are mentally incapacitated due to illness or substance use.
Besides the criminalization of violence and intimidation against hospital employees, the Act includes provisions for enhancing hospital security and addressing the mental health needs of patients. It also provides $25 million in grants for hospital safety initiatives. These funds could be used to fund training in de-escalation techniques, handling mental health crises, coordinating with law enforcement, and implementing violence prevention measures in hospitals.
The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act
In addition to the SAVE Act, bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act has been introduced. This legislation is designed to provide federal funding to prevent suicide, burnout, and mental health conditions among healthcare workers. The Act is named after Dr. Lorna Breen, a New York City emergency room doctor who took her own life after treating COVID-19 patients during the early stages of the pandemic.
The goal of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act is to provide resources to healthcare professionals in order to address the significant mental health challenges that many face in the line of duty. The aim is to prevent burnout and improve mental health outcomes among healthcare providers, who often work in high-stress environments.
Both of these legislative efforts represent significant steps towards ensuring the safety and well-being of healthcare workers. They highlight the urgent need for both state and federal legislation to protect those who work tirelessly to ensure our health and well-being. As these bills continue to gain support, they offer hope that we can create a safer and healthier work environment for our healthcare professionals.