COLUMBUS— State Senator Scott Oelslager today announced the Ohio Senate voted to approve legislation that seeks to better protect healthcare professionals and hospital workers and security officials from workplace violence. House Bill 62 increases the penalties for assault when the victim is a healthcare professional or hospital worker engaged in their duties. 

For a first offense the bill authorizes a penalty of a first-degree misdemeanor with a fine up to $5,000 when the victim is a hospital worker and the hospital offers de-escalation or crisis intervention training for such hospital workers. For second and subsequent offenses, the legislation increases the penalty to a fifth-degree felony. House Bill 62 also authorizes hospitals to post a warning sign indicating that the abuse or assault of staff will not be tolerated.  Finally, with the help of Senator Keith Faber (R-Celina) the same penalty structure will apply to the assault of a judge, magistrate, prosecutor, court official or employee of the court. 

“The quality of healthcare in Ohio is dependent upon the safety of those who work in the industry,” said Oelslager, who sponsored companion legislation in the Senate after being contacted about the issue by Mercy Medical Center in Canton. “When violence erupts in a healthcare setting, it has a serious impact on the ability of workers to provide quality care to their patients. This legislation aims to make our hospitals, emergency departments and other healthcare settings safer and send the message that violence in any workplace is unacceptable.”

A study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that nearly 60 percent of all nonfatal assaults and violent acts in the workplace from 2003-2007 occurred in healthcare and social assistance fields. The study also found that workers in these industries are nearly five times more likely to be the victim of a nonfatal assault or violent act than the average U.S. worker. However, as many assaults are not reported, the actual numbers are likely higher.

In addition, the Senate also approved House Bill 367, which establishes a licensure process for pediatric respite care programs.  During debate on the bill in the Senate, Senator Oelslager successfully won approval to include an amendment that prohibits “brown bagging.”  This is the practice of toxic drugs being delivered directly to a patient’s home.  Brown bagging raises safety concerns for both patients and providers involving the unknown storage and handling conditions of the drugs, and accepting medications from an outside source can negatively impact the integrity of the medication. Oelslager’s amendment will end the delivery of dangerous non-self injectable cancer drugs directly to a patient’s home, unless that residence is a nursing care facility. This will ensure that fragile and complex chemotherapy drugs are properly stored and transported, as the safe chain of custody is vital to the healthcare professionals who ultimately administer these drugs. 

House Bill 62 now returns to the Ohio House of Representatives, where members must agree to changes made by the Senate.

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