Increase of assaults on health care workers call for more legal protections – WCNC.com

September 12, 2022
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Since the start of the pandemic, attacks against health care workers have increased significantly at hospitals and doctors’ offices across the country.
Now, Congress is considering legislation that would offer health care workers the same protections against assaults and intimidation, as airline crews.
Health care workers are experiencing assaults both verbal and physical, it’s a problem that’s been around for years but since the pandemic, there’s been a rise.
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“They knew when they went into health care, they would be caring for people at their most vulnerable,” the Enterprise Executive Vice President and Chief Physician Executive for Atrium Health, Dr. Scott Rissmiller said.
But health care officials say people at their most vulnerable, should not resort to violence. 
“It is zero tolerance, it’s unacceptable,” Dr. Rissmiller said. 
Despite growing awareness of the dangers, health care workers face, and campaigns to highlight them, the problem of assaults on health care workers is getting worse, not better. 
“It’s accelerated significantly over the past several years,” Dr. Rissmiller said. 
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According to the American Hospital Association, recent studies indicate that 44% of nurses reported experiencing physical violence and 68% reported experiencing verbal abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Safety From Violence for Healthcare Employees Act (Save Act), would give health care workers additional legal protections against assaults and intimidation. 
It would also provide grants to hospitals for programs to help reduce violent incidents. 
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Atrium Health officials say they’ve taken extra safety measures like additional security, check-ins at entrances, and some metal detectors.  
“Going into health care you know you’re going to work long hours and be in difficult situations, but we did not go into health care thinking we were going to be unsafe,” Dr. Rissmiller said. “And we have to make sure our teammates who are doing important work for the community every day feel like they’re safe because their jobs are difficult enough.”   
Employees assaulted can press charges, but it’s up to the individual. Atrium Health says they offer their support in that process.
Contact Lexi Wilson at lwilson@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.
WCNC Charlotte is committed to reporting on the issues facing the communities we serve. We tell the stories of people working to solve persistent social problems. We examine how problems can be solved or addressed to improve the quality of life and make a positive difference. WCNC Charlotte is seeking solutions for you. Send your tips or questions to newstips@wcnc.com.

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