One of the truly grotesque impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is how it has placed a target on the heads of healthcare workers. The same doctors, nurses, and hospital staffers that were lauded as heroes at the start of the pandemic have come under threat of violence from hate mongering ignoramuses who refuse to accept medical reality. Last week, threat escalated into actual violence when a man carrying a rifle and handgun opened fire on the campus of Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, killing two doctors, a hospital worker, and a patient who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The Tulsa massacre has added impetus to efforts to pass legislation imposing extra penalties for intimidating, threatening, or assaulting medical workers akin to current laws protecting pilots and aircraft flight crews. Utah and Wisconsin have adopted healthcare worker protection laws this year. Similar legislation is under consideration in a number of other states, including Connecticut, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Jersey.
And now the US Congress has taken up the cause. This week, the House of Representatives tabled a bipartisan bill called the Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) Act. Several influential healthcare organizations have endorsed the bill, including the American Hospital Association.
“The SAVE Act will put in place legal protections to help deter violence inside our nation’s hospitals and keep these vital institutions safe and secure for patients and our nation’s healthcare professionals,” noted Larry Bucshon, R-Indiana, a physician and co-sponsor of the bill.