There are issues in health care where reasonable people may disagree. But something everyone can agree on is the need to protect America’s health care workforce from threats, abuse and violence.

The statistics on violence directed at health care workers are appalling. Overall, health care professionals are five times more likely to experience workplace violence than workers in other fields.

Violence in health care settings should never be accepted as “part of the job.” That’s why the AHA and numerous other health care organizations are calling on Congress to promptly pass the Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) Act (H.R. 2584/S. 2768), bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would provide federal protections for health care workers similar to those that apply to aircraft and airport workers.

Protections against workplace violence are urgently needed. Although hospitals and health systems have worked diligently to establish protocols and programs to protect employees and promote a safe environment for patient care, violence against health care workers has escalated in recent years.

Attacks and abuse can also interfere with patient care when providers fear for their personal safety, are distracted by disruptive patients or family members, or are traumatized from prior violent interactions. These types of incidents also consume scarce hospital and health system resources, which in turn impact the care available for other patients.

The AHA has taken several steps to highlight the urgency of this issue, including a number of new activities.

Capitol Hill Briefing. On Tuesday, along with the American College of Emergency Physicians, we hosted a briefing for Capitol Hill staff and media to educate them on the problem and why federal legislation is necessary. Special thanks to hospital, health system and physician leaders from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C., for sharing their stories. We were honored to have the House bill’s co-sponsors, Reps. Larry Bucshon, M.D., R-Ind., and Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., open the briefing.

Demonstrating Support from National Organizations. Last week the AHA and eight other national hospital associations voiced support for the SAVE Act, joining 25 additional organizations backing the legislation.

Keeping our health care workers safe is a top priority for the AHA and the field. We’ll redouble our efforts throughout the year to secure federal protections for them. Our dedicated caregivers, who deliver their all to patients every single day, deserve no less.

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