The California State Assembly gave final approval to Assembly Bill 172 by Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez which seeks to close a loophole in the law and prevent workplace violence in the Emergency Room. The bill now goes to Governor Jerry Brown.
Under current law, an assault or battery against a physician or nurse rendering emergency medical care outside of a hospital, clinic or health care facility is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,000, or a one year jail time, or both. However, if an assault or battery occurs inside the health care facility, the crime is punishable as a lower misdemeanor with a jail time of up to 6 months. Sponsored by the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA), AB 172 would close this loophole by increasing the penalties for violence committed against all health care workers engaged in providing services within the ER.
“Health care workers in emergency rooms are on the front lines of emergency medical care. The risk of verbal and physical assault increases in an ER setting and such incidents should not be considered or accepted as part of the job,” said Rodriguez. “These workers deserve the same level of protection whether they are performing their duties inside or outside of a hospital.”
In 2007, a National Emergency Department Safety Study found that twenty-five percent of workers in emergency departments surveyed felt unsafe at work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare workers accounted for over 10 percent of the 2 million reported cases of workplace violence each year.
“We applaud the California State Legislature for working to ensure that emergency department personnel are protected against violence that is all too common in healthcare,” said Emergency Nurses Association President Matthew F. Powers, MS, BSN, RN, MICP, CEN. “We look forward to Governor Brown’s support of this important legislation aimed at adding California to the growing list of states recognizing that violence directed at emergency nurses should never be tolerated.”
The bill passed the State Senate 40-0 and the Assembly gave final approval sending the bill to the Governor’s Desk. He has until October 11 to sign or veto the legislation.
Assemblymember Rodriguez represents the 52nd Assembly District which includes the cities of Chino, Montclair, Ontario, Pomona and portions of unincorporated Fontana.
CONTACT: Francisco Estrada, (916) 319-2052