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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: August 12, 2019 02:39 PM
From: Representative Keith Gillespie
To: All House members
Subject: Aggravated Assault of a Health Care Practitioner
I am reintroducing Senator Judy Ward’s House Bill 646 of last session, amending Title 18 (Crimes Code) to add “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 Section 2702(c) 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 is a felony of the second degree.

Section 2702(c) 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 the current provision.

Not included in this section is “health care practitioners” which 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, audiologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, athletic trainers, dietitian-nutritionists, massage therapists, optometrists, podiatrists, physician assistants and respiratory therapists. 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.

During the 2017-18 legislative session, House Bill 646 was approved by the House.

Please join me in cosponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB1879