Bill aims to protect healthcare workers from violent patients

Jan 17, 2022, 6:44 PM
(The Utah State Capitol.  Photo: Paul Nelson, January 17, 2022.)...
(The Utah State Capitol. Photo: Paul Nelson, January 17, 2022.)
(The Utah State Capitol. Photo: Paul Nelson, January 17, 2022.)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s 2022 legislative session kicks off Tuesday, and lawmakers will be debating topics ranging from no-knock warrants to transgender athletes in sports.  One of the bills up for discussion would enhance the penalties for violent patients who attacks a healthcare worker, which the bill’s sponsor says is a growing problem.

Violent patients

We’ve all seen videos on social media of people losing their cool in public. Disgruntled customers or neighbors lashing out at workers for whatever reason.  District 42 Representative Robert Spendlove says the medical industry is not exempt from aggressive customers.  He says hospital administrators are reporting a growing number of violent patients kicking, punching and biting their employees.

Spendlove said, “A nurse was hit so hard that she got a concussion.  There was a worker that was bitten so hard that he bled profusely.”

Enhanced penalties

Currently, there’s a federal law that enhances the penalties for attacks on emergency room workers, according to Spendlove.  He says someone convicted of that would have to pay up to $2,500 in fines. That person would also get up to one year in prison.  However, he says the penalties are different if a healthcare worker is attacked outside of the ER.

“If you were to attack healthcare worker, it would be a $1,000 fine and six months in jail,” he said.

House Bill 32 would bring those enhanced penalties to attacks happening in hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices, as long as those healthcare workers are on the job.  Spendlove says the bill was drafted so people with mental illness wouldn’t be held liable for what happens during a breakdown.

He said, “It applies to everyone, but those with mental health issues have special protections.”

Spendlove says the 2022 session might be impacted from the rising numbers of people infected with COVID-19.  He believes they’ll have to find ways to keep people protected from the omicron variant while they get their work done at the Capitol.

“One of the things that we have to do is we have to be flexible,” he said.

Read more:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Crime, Police + Courts

One person is dead following a three vehicle crash in Sanpete County around 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Ja...
Waverly Golden

Three vehicle crash in Sanpete County leaves one dead

One person is dead following a three vehicle crash in Sanpete County around 7:30 p.m. on Friday, January 28.
1 day ago
Tyre Nichols Protests...
Nouran Salahieh, Jamiel Lynch, Chuck Johnston, Shawn Nottingham, Andy Rose and Phil Gast, CNN

More protests today after release of video depicting the deadly police beating of Tyre Nichols

Protesters across the US heldmarches & rallies on Saturday, one day after the release of video showing the police beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis.
1 day ago
A traffic stop in Salt Lake City led to the arrest of a 21-year-old man who was in possession of il...
Mark Jones

Salt Lake City traffic stop leads to drug bust, illegal gun recovered

Salt Lake City police say a traffic stop Thursday resulted in a 21-year-old man being arrested for being in possession of illegal drugs and a firearm.
2 days ago
Video footage of a traffic stop that led to the deadly beating of Tyre Nichols shows "acts that def...
Travis Caldwell, Jay Croft, Eric Bradner and Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN

Memphis releases video showing police stop that led to Tyre Nichols’ death

Editor’s note: This article contains graphic descriptions of violence. (CNN) — The city of Memphis has released police body camera and surveillance video showing the January 7 traffic stop and violent police confrontation that led to the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols. During the initial encounter between Nichols and Memphis police, an officer can be seen […]
2 days ago
A 15-year-old girl was killed in a crosswalk on Friday when she was hit by a school bus in Sandy. T...
Simone Seikaly

Jordan High student killed in Sandy crosswalk by school bus

Sandy police said they do not yet know how or why the student was hit while walking in a crosswalk on Friday.
2 days ago
A bill on transgender healthcare — banning transgender-related surgeries and puberty blockers for...
Eliza Pace, KSL TV and Aimee Cobabe, KSL NewsRadio

Utah Senate approves changes to transgender care bill, passes on to Gov. Cox

SB16 bans gender-confirming surgeries for minors and also places a moratorium on puberty blockers for minors.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Bill aims to protect healthcare workers from violent patients