FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 16, 2018
Alaska House Passes Bill to Protect Medical Professionals in the Workplace
HB 312 Supports Safe Workplaces by Giving Law Enforcement Necessary Tools
Juneau – Today, the Alaska House of Representatives passed legislation sponsored by Representative Matt Claman (D-Anchorage) that helps address the problem of assaults within health care facilities.
Alaska hospitals have reported an increase in workplace violence over the past year, including assaults with physical injury against caregivers, such as being kicked, punched, spit on or verbally threatened. This violence can vary, including patient-on-caregiver violence, and visitor-on-caregiver violence.
“Many assaults fall into the category of fourth degree assault, in which an officer must have a warrant to arrest an individual. The warrant requirement in this situation is prohibiting officers from immediately arresting and removing the individual from the scene,” said Rep. Claman.
House Bill 312 allows for arrest without a warrant for a fourth degree assault in a health care facility. By removing the barrier of obtaining a warrant, perpetrators can be removed from health care facilities and hard-working medical professionals will be safe to continue their work. Additionally, House Bill 312 adds an aggravator to Alaska’s felony assault statute when that assault is knowingly perpetrated against a medical professional in the performance of their duties.
“House Bill 312 gives law enforcement the necessary tools needed to swiftly remove perpetrators to allow medical professionals to focus on safely administering care to those in need,” said Rep. Claman.
Representative Matt Claman (D-Anchorage) has collaborated closely with Representative Kopp (R-Anchorage) to address this issue. “I’m pleased to be working with Rep. Kopp on this House Bill 312, and I look forward to continuing our efforts to improve public safety.”
House Bill 312 is supported by the Alaska State Hospital & Nursing Home Association (ASHNA), the American College of Emergency Physicians (Alaska ACEP), the Alaska Nurses Association (AaNA), and numerous hospitals and health care centers across the state.
HB 312 passed the Alaska House of Representatives today by a vote of 31-1. The bill will now be sent to the Alaska Senate for consideration.
For more information, please contact Lizzie Kubitz in Rep. Claman’s office at (907) 465-4904.