Georgia’s HB 383 – The Safer Hospitals Act

Wow! It has been a while since I published a blog. My apologies for my absence. Excuses, life, etc. Despite my absence, I wanted to take a moment to share some information about the newly passed Georgia House Bill 383 – The Safer Hospitals Act and share what it means for my fellow healthcare security professionals in the great state of Georgia.

HB 383 has passed both the House and Senate in Georgia and is expected to be signed by the Governor’s office any day now. The bill updated Georgia’s laws in two significant ways; first, it updated criminal penalties for aggravated assaults on healthcare workers while expanding the definition of what a healthcare worker is, and second, it allows healthcare organizations the opportunity to employ a campus police agency like a university or college. Let’s take a second to break that down.

Starting with the change to criminal penalties for aggravated assault against healthcare workers. Georgia has had enhanced penalties for assaults on emergency healthcare workers for several years, but the law was narrowly focused on clinical care providers in emergency settings. This left a large gap when prosecuting assaults against other healthcare workers in different locations. The new law expands the definition to include all healthcare workers in a hospital setting, including clinical care providers and ancillary staff in those settings. The new law means that anyone convicted of assault against a healthcare worker in any hospital setting is subject to a minimum of three years in prison. This new extension of the law acknowledges the scope of workplace violence against all healthcare workers and the vulnerability and significance of the risk to all healthcare workers in the State of Georgia.

The second, and perhaps most exciting feature of the bill, is all healthcare facilities’ capacity to establish and employ their own campus police agencies. The bill established a healthcare peace officer position that is a fully certified and empowered police officer operating on behalf of the healthcare organization. Each healthcare facility can make its own choice in taking this step. Still, it brings a full spectrum of law enforcement tools into the security tool belt for protecting healthcare facilities across Georgia. Not only does this give the individual officer police powers, but it also gives the organization access to law enforcement training programs, grant programs, and intelligence programs. All of which enhance the proactive posture of the security program.

While this signals a massive shift in security capabilities for Georgia’s healthcare facilities, it remains to be seen which facilities will embrace the change and add this tool to their tool belt. No matter the choices of individual healthcare organizations, the State of Georgia has taken a significant step forward to empower the protectors who serve our healthcare workforce.

What do you think? Does this kind of legislation make sense for the healthcare industry? Do you support empowering healthcare facilities with locally employed police agencies? Do you think police powers make a difference in protecting the healthcare workforce? Join the conversation in the comments below, and don’t forget to like, follow and share to support the Proactive Security Blog.

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