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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 9, 2017 02:52 PM
From: Senator Donald C. White
To: All Senate members
Subject: Increased Penalties for Assault on Health Care Practitioners

In the near future, I plan to reintroduce legislation (SB 1355 from last session) to raise the penalty for an assault on a health care practitioner from a misdemeanor of the second degree to a felony.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in health care and social assistance settings are five times more likely to be victims of nonfatal assaults or violent acts than the average workers in all other occupations. Unlike other occupations, health care workers may deal with patients who have a history of violence or mental illness and patients under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Under PA Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses), 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, which is either a felony of the first or second degree. The protected class already includes EMS personnel and psychiatric aides. My bill would add health care practitioners, as defined in the Pennsylvania Health Care Facilities Act.

I believe this proposed legislation can act as a deterrent against assaults on health care workers as well as provide an extra sense of security in the workplace. Please join me in further protecting the hardworking men and women that provide health care services across the Commonwealth.

If you have any questions regarding this proposal, please contact Anne Achenbach, of my staff, at 7-4404 or at aachenbach@pasen.gov.

Introduced as SB445