House Bill 705 Protects Health Care Workers and Limits Nursing Shortages
AUSTIN, Texas (May 21, 2013) - The Texas Senate today took an important step to protect nurses and address nursing shortages by passing legislation to increase safety for health care workers in Texas hospitals’ emergency rooms. The bill will be sent to Gov. Rick Perry for approval.
House Bill 705, authored by Rep. Donna Howard (D - Austin) and sponsored by Sen. Charles Schwertner (R - Georgetown), passed unanimously and extends protection to nurses and other health care workers who provide care in emergency departments by enhancing penalties for assaults committed during the delivery of care. For assaults committed against emergency services personnel who are in the course of providing emergency services, current law enhances the penalty from a Class A misdemeanor to a third degree felony. However, assaults committed against emergency room personnel currently do not qualify for the penalty enhancement.
Despite increased security measures in Texas hospitals, violence against health care workers continues to climb. Emergency room personnel are often exposed to dangerous or violent patients. Extending these protections to nurses ensures an added level of safety, potentially affecting nurse staff shortages.
“This legislation improves the working environment in emergency departments and positively addresses nursing shortages at Texas hospitals by reducing nurse exposure to patients who might otherwise pose dangerous behavior,” said Dan Stultz, M.D., FACP, FACHE, THA president/ chief executive officer. “Emergency care providers should all be treated with the same protection of the law, whether in a patrol vehicle, ambulance or within the walls of an emergency department.”
The Texas Hospital Association supports HB 705, emphasizing the danger that many health care professionals face on a daily basis. HB 705 is the result of THA’s work with Rep. Howard, Sen. Schwertner, the Texas Nurses Association, the Texas Emergency Room Nurses Association and the Texas Organization of Nurse Executives.
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ABOUT THE TEXAS HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION
Founded in 1930, the Texas Hospital Association is the leadership organization and principal advocate for the state’s hospitals and health care systems. Based in Austin, THA enhances its members’ abilities to improve accessibility, quality and cost-effectiveness of health care for all Texans. One of the largest hospital associations in the country, THA represents more than 85 percent of the state’s acute-care hospitals and health care systems, which employ some 365,000 health care professionals statewide. Learn more about THA at www.tha.org or follow THA on Twitter at http://twitter.com/texashospitals.