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Sen. Weaver passes the Medical Care Provider Protection Act out of committee

The Senate Public Safety Committee has passed Senate Bill 1290, also known as the Medical Care Provider Protection Act, which takes steps to address workplace violence in the health care arena.

Authored by Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore, SB 1290 tackles health care workplace violence through four approaches:

  • Expands Oklahoma’s existing first responder and emergency room assault law to include assault protections for all health care workers.
  • Increases the penalty for assault to protect health care workers on the job. The legislation changes the felony penalty for aggravated assault or assault with a deadly weapon to a range of two to five years in prison and a fine up to $1,000. It also maintains the penalty for simple assault as a felony with a maximum of two years in prison and a fine up to $1,000.
  • Requires all hospitals, clinics and ambulance services to post signs stating that assaulting a medical professional performing his/her official duties is a serious crime.
  • Requires reporting of all assaults to the State Department of Health on an annual basis. 

Weaver said health care violence is a major issue in our state, with Oklahoma City hospitals reporting five to 10 assaults per day. Data shows that nurses report some kind of workplace violence more than three times the rate of all other occupations, and 83 percent of assaulted ER physicians report that patients threaten to return and harm them or other health care workers.

The high rate of these incidents can also lead to profession burn out and sky-high workers compensation costs, Weaver said.

“Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in the health care and social service sectors, violence caused 13 percent of days away from work in 2013, and this statistic continues to rise,” Weaver said. “One area hospital reported $237,894 in workplace violence claims in 2017 alone.”

Weaver said the steps Senate Bill 1290 takes will allow the state to collect the data needed to analyze the scope of the problem and lay the ground work for further action to protect health care workers. 

“Quality health care is compromised when our medical professionals are assaulted, and the safety of our doctors, nurses and other health care workers should be a top priority for our state,” Weaver said. “I’m glad my colleagues in the Senate Public Safety Committee see the need for workplace protections for our health care workers. I look forward to advocating for our medical professionals and their safety when I present this legislation in front of the full Senate for consideration.”


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