Florida bill on preventing workplace violence in hospitals makes progress
Tallahassee, FL — Legislation in Florida that would strengthen criminal penalties for assault or battery on hospital workers has advanced out of two Senate committees.
Sponsored by Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez (R-Doral), S.B. 568 would make assault on any hospital worker a first-degree misdemeanor. Currently, Florida law defines the crime as a second-degree misdemeanor.
In addition, the bill would elevate:
- Battery to a third-degree felony (from a first-degree misdemeanor).
- Aggravated assault to a second-degree felony (from a third-degree felony).
- Aggravated battery to a first-degree felony (from a second-degree felony).
The bill would cover instances of workplace violence anywhere in a hospital. In a published report, Rodriguez said current Florida law covers assault or battery only in ER settings.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care and social services workers experience the highest workplace violence injury rates and are five times more likely than all other workers to suffer an injury from workplace violence.
The Senate Health Policy Committee approved the bill with a 10-0 vote on March 20. Twelve days earlier, the Criminal Justice Committee approved the bill, 5-1. At press time, the legislation was before the Senate Rules Committee.
If signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), the bill would go into effect Oct. 1.