North Carolina Governor McCrory signed House Bill 560 in June 2015, which went into effect on December 1, 2015. The law provides additional protections for North Carolina hospital workers.
Previously, individuals who assaulted doctors, physicians assistants, or nurses in the emergency department were recognized as committing a felony. Under the new law it will be a felony to attack any hospital worker or licensed provider. Assaults will be classified as various classes of felonies depending on whether or not a firearm is involved.
Decisions about medical treatment, stress, reactions to medications, or behavioral outbursts associated with some conditions sometimes escalate to the point where a family member, visitor, or a patient makes an act of aggression toward a hospital worker. Some healthcare providers navigate a high-stress environment with unpredictable patient responses. Sometimes concerned family members are conflicted over medical decisions. The new law is intended to help deter individuals from assaulting hospital workers, to encourage individuals to control their tempers, and hopefully improve hospital worker safety.
Hospital workers face a number of dangers in their job responsibilities and their work environment. Radiation exposure from medical testing, exposure to bodily fluids of sick patients, physical stress of lifting and moving patients, and a number of other risks could cause injury or illness to the worker. Not to mention slip-and-falls or repetitive stress injuries. The new law helps respond to another danger that hospital workers might face while juggling other risks: Assault.
Individuals who are assaulted at work are generally eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Learn more about starting the workers' comp process in North Carolina.