Hospitals

Hospital worker protection bill passed by Ohio House

A bill that increases the punishment for assaulting a hospital worker to a fourth-degree felony has passed the Ohio House of Representatives by a wide margin. While the bill’s prospects in the Senate are uncertain, it’s already progressed farther than a nearly identical bill that never made it to a vote in the state’s prior […]

A bill that increases the punishment for assaulting a hospital worker to a fourth-degree felony has passed the Ohio House of Representatives by a wide margin.

While the bill’s prospects in the Senate are uncertain, it’s already progressed farther than a nearly identical bill that never made it to a vote in the state’s prior legislative session.

House Bill 62 passed by a vote of 85 to 12.

The law would cover anyone who works in a hospital — doctors, nurses, clerks, medical technicians, security officers and others.

Fourth-degree felonies are punishable by prison terms between six and 18 months, and a fine up to $5,000. Typically, assault is treated as a lesser offense, such as a first-degree misdemeanor, which calls for punishment of up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000.

The Ohio Hospital Association and Ohio State Medical Association, which represents the state’s physicians, support the proposal.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Anne Gonzales, R-Westerville, who wasn’t immediately available for comment.

“We believe even verbally alerting a potential assailant that assaulting a healthcare professional is a felony may help defuse many situations,” she told the Columbus Dispatch.

HB 62 is curiously similar to another piece of legislation, HB 154, that was proposed during the current session.