Senate Approves Bill to Protect Health Care Practitioners and Technicians

The Senate voted on 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 Dan Laughlin, who supported the measure.

The bill increases 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. 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.

“Unfortunately, health care professionals can find themselves in hazardous situations as they perform their duties,” said Senator Laughlin. “This measure justifiably sets a much more severe criminal penalty for those who attack those dedicated professionals. I was pleased to support it. I hope the House quickly agrees and sends this bill to the Governor for enactment into law.” 

Senate Bill 351 extends 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 are also covered by 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:         Matt Azeles       

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