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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: February 8, 2017 04:18 PM
From: Representative Judy Ward
To: All House members
Subject: Assault of a Health Care Practitioner
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation that will add all health care practitioners to a protected class in the event of assault. This bill will raise the penalty for an assault on a health care practitioner, while in the performance of duty where there is bodily injury, from a misdemeanor of the second degree to a felony of the second degree.

Title 18 provides that assault against specific individuals is considered aggravated assault. A simple assault is graded as a misdemeanor of the second degree, but an assault against an individual within those enumerated protected classes is treated as an aggravated assault. The grading of an aggravated assault where there is bodily injury under Title 18 is a felony of the second degree.

A health care practitioner means any health care professional who has a license, permit or certificate from the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs of the Department of State. Examples are social workers, pharmacists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, athletic trainers, dietician-nutritionists, massage therapists, optometrists, podiatrists, physician assistants and respiratory therapists. Title 18 already provides that EMS personnel, which includes doctors, residents, interns, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nurse aids, ambulance attendants and operators, paramedics, emergency medical technicians and members of a hospital security force as well as psychiatric aides are covered under this current statute.

Not included in Title 18 are social workers, respiratory therapists, physical and occupational therapists, pharmacists or audiologists. These health care workers are also worthy of the same level of protection. It is time to close the loophole in this statute and protect all who are caring for patients.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation.

Introduced as HB646