CMA-sponsored bill addressing ER violence clears Senate Public Safety Committee

June 11, 2024

A bill sponsored by the California Medical Association (CMA) to establish parity in the penalty for violence committed against health care workers in emergency departments has advanced out of the Senate Public Safety Committee.  

Currently, assaults that happen to health care workers inside an emergency department carry lesser penalties than the very same assaults if they happen outside the emergency department. Assembly Bill 977, authored by Assemblymember and career first responder Freddie Rodriguez, would equalize those penalties.  

Health care workers are five times more likely to experience workplace violence than employees in other sectors, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

At a June 4, 2024, hearing in the Senate Public Safety Committee, Anna Yap, M.D., a Sacramento-based emergency medicine physician represented CMA and provided supporting testimony about her experiences with violence in the workplace and the impact it has on health care workers.  

“I've been punched, slapped, kicked, spit on and verbally harassed at work, and that's not a unique experience,” Dr. Yap said. “While training in Los Angeles, I had co-residents who had guns and knives pulled on them by patients. My colleague here in Sacramento, while 37 weeks pregnant, was tackled to the ground by a patient’s family member.” 

“At the end of the day, it is unfair that in the especially unsafe environment of the emergency department, we get less protections than if we were assaulted by somebody on the streets,” Dr. Yap added. “Emergency professionals are incredibly burnt out. Promoting a safe environment for health care workers that treat our communities will ensure the well-being of both physicians and patients.” 

AB 977 is part of CMA’s priority bill package for the 2024 legislative session. The bill now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee.  

For an up-to-date look at the status of CMA’s sponsored and supported legislative package and other legislation impacting California patients, the profession and public health, check out CMA’s Legislative Hot List


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