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DHA Advocates for Bill to Address Violence Against Health Care Workers


by Christina Bryan

Today, the Delaware General Assembly's House Committee on Public Safety & Homeland Security voted to advance a DHA-supported bill aimed at addressing violence against hospital and health care workers. Under House Bill 324, causing intentional injury against health care workers would be considered assault in the second degree -- a felony offense. 
Violence against health care workers is unacceptable and must be stopped. Health care workers have dedicated their lives to caring for others, yet they are more likely than any other workforce to encounter serious assault in their workplace. In fact, health care workers are four times more likely to experience workplace violence than other private industries and 75% of the workplace assaults reported annually happen in the health care or social services settings. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the frequency and severity of these incidents. 
Delaware, like the rest of the nation, is experiencing significant health care workforce shortages. The stress of the pandemic and the surge in violent assaults has taken an enormous toll on our caregivers, both physically and mentally. As a result, many have left the bedside or have made the difficult choice to leave the health care profession all together. 
We must stand up for our health care heroes.
Under current law, causing intentional injury against a doctor, nurse or EMT would be considered a felony offense, but that is not the case for the numerous other hospital and health care workers who come into close contact with patients and their family members and are assaulted. HB 324 would ensure that violence against all health care workers is treated equally under the law. Specifically, HB 324 further defines assault in the second degree to include “any person providing health care treatment or employed by a health care provider” while such person is performing a work-related duty.
This bill, coupled with violence-prevention strategies already underway at our local hospitals, is critical to protecting the safety of those that work, day in and day out, to care for us and our loved ones. 
DHA is pleased to support HB 324 and we thank Representative Bill Bush and Senator Trey Paradee for introducing this important bill.

Now that the bill has been released from committee, HB 324 will soon be considered in the Delaware House of Representatives. We urge the Delaware General Assembly to take a stand against violence to health care workers by voting yes on HB 324.

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