Senate Approves Bill to Protect Health Care Practitioners and Technicians

Harrisburg – The Senate voted Monday to extend new protections to members of the healthcare community by strengthening penalties for assaults against health care practitioners and technicians, according to Senator John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry), who supported the measure.

The bill would increase the penalty for an assault on a health care practitioner, while in the performance of duty where there is bodily injury, from a misdemeanor of the second degree to a felony of the second degree.

“Health care practitioners and technicians perform crucial tasks in the delivery of care, much of which takes place under trying circumstances,” said DiSanto.  “Passage of this legislation means we acknowledge their vital roles and consider an assault on them as serious as an attack on other health care professionals.”

Existing state law already provides stiffer penalties for assaults against EMS personnel, including doctors, residents, nurses, paramedics and other members of the health care community.

Senate Bill 351 would extend the same protections to a broader range of health care practitioners, including social workers, pharmacists, audiologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, athletic trainers, dietitian-nutritionists, massage therapists, optometrists, podiatrists, physician assistants and respiratory therapists.

A number of health care technicians would also be included under the bill, such as cardiac device specialists, diagnostic medical sonographers, cardiac sonographer, exercise physiologists, vascular technologists, pharmacy technicians and physical therapy aides.

Senate Bill 351 is supported by the PA State Nurses Association, PA Medical Society, PA Hospital Association, PA Organization of Nurse Leaders, PA Society for Respiratory Care, Inc., and PA District Attorneys Association.

The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for its consideration.

 

CONTACT: Chuck Erdman cerdman@pasen.gov (717) 787-6801