Vaupel’s proposal intends to protect health care workers from assaults

State Rep. Hank Vaupel testifies on his bill to add health care workers to the protective class for criminal assaults.

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State Rep. Hank Vaupel on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, testified in favor of his plan adding health care professionals and medical volunteers to the protective class for criminal assault.

Republican Vaupel, of Handy Township, explained that House Bills 6203 and 6204 will make it safer for doctors, nurses and medical staff to do their jobs by providing a clear deterrent for violent actions against individuals in those fields.

“Assaults are on the increase at hospitals and health care facilities and these assaults against these workers go unreported for a lot of reasons or they are not followed up on when reported,” Vaupel said. “These bills assure that assaults are treated as assaults and not just brushed away. These deterrents will give health care professionals more peace of mind in the future when trying to offer care.”

From 2011 to 2013, US health care workers suffered 15,000-20,000 workplace violence-related injuries, and 80 percent of serious violent incidents reported in health care settings were caused by interactions with patients.

Vaupel was joined in testimony by Dr. Michael Gratson of Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak and Belinda Chandler of the Michigan College of Emergency Physicians.

“I have witnessed these assaults first-hand,” said Gratson, who has worked in the emergency department at Beaumont since 2010. “I’ve seen techs who have been kicked in the stomach while pregnant, broken hands, individuals who have been punched in the face and a variety of other physical injuries. A number of our emergency personnel simply no longer report these issues since they know that nothing will likely come of it and a number of experienced personnel have left the field because they fear for their own safety.”

HB 6203 amends the Michigan Penal Code to provide for the added professional fields. Current Michigan law has enhanced criminal penalties if an assault takes place against police officers, firefighters, emergency medical service personnel and other fields related to first responder operations. HB 6204 updates sentencing guidelines in concert with HB 6203.

Both proposals remain under consideration in the House Law and Justice Committee.

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