New Law Addresses workplace violence in hospitals/health care facilities

Mike Seals - May 19, 2020 12:58 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation strengthening laws dealing with violence against people who work in hospitals and health care facilities has been signed into law.  Senate Bill 1290, the Medical Care Provider Protection Act, by Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore, and Rep. Cynthia Roe, R-Lindsay, was approved by the governor on Tuesday.

Weaver said despite a lifelong career in law enforcement, he was shocked to learn how often health care workers are the victims of workplace violence.  He thanked the governor and fellow members for approving legislation aimed at keeping them safer, especially now.

“Our health care workers and other employees in these facilities are on the frontline during this pandemic.  I think the current situation just highlights how important it is to do all we can to ensure their safety while on the job” Weaver said.  “In Oklahoma City hospitals alone, between five and 10 assaults are reported every day, but it’s a problem that impacts health care workers throughout the state.  I’m grateful for the governor and the members of both chambers for their support of this legislation.”

Provisions included in SB 1290 would:

  • Raise awareness through uniformed signage in medical settings, which will read:  WARNING:  ASSAULTING A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL WHO IS ENGAGED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS OR HER OFFICIAL DUTIES IS A SERIOUS CRIME.
  • Require the annual reporting of all assaults on health care workers to the State Health Department. The data would be nonidentifiable.
  • Create an inclusive listing of specific health care workers that the bill covers.
  • Increase the penalty for aggravated assault and battery on a medical care provider from the current range of up to one year to a minimum of two years and a maximum of five.

Roe has 37 years of health care experience and is currently a nurse practitioner in Pauls Valley, where she has worked on the front lines during the state’s COVID-19 response.

“In my career as a nurse and nurse practitioner, I have seen and experienced firsthand the violence that often faces our health care workers,” Roe said. “Violent behavior from patients or visitors is a problem far too many medical professionals have been a victim of, and it unfortunately has caused many talented health care workers to pursue other careers. An estimated 75% of all workplace violence occurs in health care. I’m hopeful that the actions taken by the Legislature through this bill will cut down on this violent behavior and help keep our medical professionals safe.”

For more information, contact Sen. Darrell Weaver at 405-521-5569 or email [email protected].


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