By: Cristina N. Hyde, JD
Last month, Governor Murphy signed Assembly Bill No. 3199 into law. Otherwise known as the “Health Care Heroes Violence Prevention Act,” the new legislation is a direct response to increased reports of aggression towards health care workers; making it a criminal offense to threaten them with the intent to intimidate them or interfere with their duties in any way.
Workplace violence has become a critical issue among health care workers in New Jersey and throughout the United States. According to the World Health Organization, between 8% and 38% of health care workers suffer physical violence at some point in their careers. As a result, groups like the American Medical Association, have been calling for preventative measures. Advocates emphasize that health care provider safety is integral to the ability to provide quality care and achieve positive health outcomes.
Applicable to all health care professionals as well as any volunteer, support staff or employee of a health care professional or health care facility, A3199 is intended to deter both physical and verbal acts of violence. It provides that any person who acts, either orally or in writing, with the intent to intimidate, interfere with, or impede the performance of a covered person’s official duties could be found guilty of a disorderly person’s offense punishable by a $1,000 fine or 6 months imprisonment, or both. Further, in the case of assault, the bill also allows for the imposition of an anger management course and community service which may stand in lieu of part of a sentence of incarceration.
Health care facilities and physicians will be required to display written notice to notify the public of the new legislation. The notice should state the following:
It is a crime to assault a health care professional, any volunteer working for a health care professional or working at a health care facility, any supportive services staff member working for a health care professional or working at a health care facility, or any employee of a health care professional or a health care facility while the health care professional, volunteer, supportive services staff member, or employee is performing official duties. Any person who assaults a health care professional, volunteer, supportive services staff member, or employee in violation of this prohibition shall be subject to a fine, imprisonment, or both under the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, N.J.S.2C:1-1 et seq.
To learn more about the Health Care Heroes Violence Prevention Act, or if you have questions about how it might affect your health care practice or policies, Campanella Law Office is happy to assist you.