DeSantis signs bill to increase penalties for attacks on health care workers
The legislation has been praised by health workers. The Florida Hospital Association says the law will lead to safer working conditions and better patient care.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday signed into law a measure that increases the penalties for assault or battery of hospital personnel.
The measure (HB 825) passed through the Senate on May 2 and the House a month earlier. Sponsors were Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, R-Doral, and House sponsor Rep. Kimberly Berfield, R-Clearwater.
The legislation has been praised by health workers. Data show physical attacks on hospital personnel by patients, family members and others are on the rise, and that nurses are most likely to be the victims.
The Florida Hospital Association says the law will lead to safer working environments and better patient care.
Today @GovRonDeSantis signed HB 825, Assault or Battery on Hospital Personnel. This law increases penalties for violence against teams and volunteers at hospitals, making it a safer place to work for our health care heroes. We are grateful to Rep. Berfield and @SenatorAMR for…— Florida Hospital Association (@FLHospitalAssn) May 24, 2023
"Hospital workers are six times more likely to suffer workplace violence than the average worker. This is unacceptable. Our health care heroes work tirelessly to care for us, and we must do all we can to protect them,” Florida Hospital Association president Mary Mayhew said in April after the bill was passed by the House.
The law makes assault on hospital personnel a first-degree misdemeanor. Previously, it was a second-degree misdemeanor.
Other changes include raising battery to a third-degree felony from a first-degree misdemeanor, aggravated assault to a second-degree felony from a third-degree felony and aggravated battery to a first-degree felony from a second-degree felony.
Berfield has said she hopes her law can be used as a deterrent and will help hospital workers feel safer at their jobs.