January 29, 2024
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Emergency Medicine
The California Assembly today passed a California Medical Association (CMA) sponsored bill (AB 977, Rodriguez) that will increase penalties for violence against emergency department health care workers.
Currently, assaults that happen to health care workers inside an emergency department carry lesser penalties than the very same assaults that happen outside the emergency department. This bill will ensure that health care workers are not treated differently simply because they work in a hospital emergency department.
Violence against physicians and other health care workers is reaching crisis levels. Government data shows that health care workers are five times as likely to experience workplace violence as workers in other industries. And hostility in hospital emergency departments is on the rise. A 2022 American College of Emergency Physicians poll of more than 30,000 emergency physicians found that emergency department violence was up 24% since 2018.
“Every day, physicians, nurses and other members of the health care team put their physical and psychological safety on the line to care for patients,” says emergency physician Adam Dougherty, M.D., a CMA trustee. “Action is long overdue to ensure safer workplaces for our health care professionals. There is no public policy justification for treating criminal penalties differently because of where and against who the assault was committed.”
AB 977 now moves to the Senate.