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AB-329 Hospitals: assaults and batteries.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 06/17/2019 09:00 PM
AB329:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  June 17, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 08, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 06, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 329


Introduced by Assembly Member Rodriguez

January 31, 2019


An act to add Section 1318.5 to the Health and Safety Code, and to amend Sections 241.2 and 243.2 of the Penal Code, relating to hospitals.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 329, as amended, Rodriguez. Hospitals: assaults and batteries.
Existing law defines an assault as an unlawful attempt, coupled with present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another. Under existing law, an assault committed on school or park property is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, by a fine not exceeding $2,000, or by both that fine and imprisonment. Existing law defines a battery as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another. Under existing law, a battery committed on school property, park property, or the grounds of a public or private hospital is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, by a fine not exceeding $2,000, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
This bill would make an assault committed on the property of a public or private hospital punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, by a fine not exceeding $2,000, or by both that fine and imprisonment. By expanding the scope of a crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
This bill would additionally authorize a health facility to post a notice in the facility stating that an assault or battery against staff is a crime, and may result in a criminal conviction, as provided.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) In a national survey by the Journal of Emergency Medicine, it was found that out of 263 residents and attendants, 78 percent of them experienced at least one act of workplace violence in just 12 months.
(b) According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care workers experience the most nonfatal incidents of workplace violence compared to other professions, with violent attacks accounting for almost 70 percent of all nonfatal workplace assaults, causing days away from work in the United States.

(c)According to the Journal of Nursing Administration, in hospitals, violence occurs most frequently in psychiatric wards, emergency departments, waiting rooms, and geriatric units. Studies have found that 35 percent to 80 percent of hospital staff have been physically assaulted at least once during their careers.

(d)According to the Journal of Nursing Administration, the 24-hour accessibility of emergency departments, the lack of adequately trained, armed, or visible security guards, and a highly stressful environment are some of the reasons why emergency departments are especially vulnerable to violence.

(e)

(c) In a 2018 survey by the American College of Emergency Physicians, 7 in 10 respondents said their hospital reported the incident, yet only 3 percent pressed charges.
(d) In 2014, in an effort to keep health care workers safe from the recognized hazard of workplace violence, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 1299, which required the Division of Occupational Safety and Health to adopt regulations focused on the issue of health care workplace violence prevention. In 2017, the division adopted Section 3342 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations. This act supplements and in no way abrogates these existing regulations.

(f)

(e) Although hospitals have taken numerous measures to protect their staff and everyone in the hospital, additional help is needed to ensure that when patients do assault individuals in the hospital, they are held accountable and the penalties act as a deterrent from future assaultive behavior.

(g)

(f) Under current California law, if a serious injury is sustained, or weapons are used, a battery may be prosecuted as a felony.

(h)

(g) As of 2018, California is one of the few states that has not passed a felony law that pertains to violence committed inside a health care facility.

SEC. 2.

 Section 1318.5 is added to the Health and Safety Code, to read:

1318.5.
 A health facility licensed under this chapter may post a notice in a conspicuous place in any area of the facility, including, but not limited to, the waiting area, lobby, or entrance, stating substantially the following:

WE WILL NOT TOLERATE any form of threatening or aggressive behavior toward our staff, patients, or visitors. Assaults and batteries against our staff, patients, or visitors are crimes and may result in a criminal conviction. All staff have the right to carry out their work without fearing for their safety.

SEC. 3.

 Section 241.2 of the Penal Code is amended to read:

241.2.
 (a) (1) When an assault is committed on school property, park property, or the property of a public or private hospital, against any person, the assault is punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
(2) When a violation of this section is committed by a minor on school property, the court may, in addition to any other fine, sentence, or as a condition of probation, order the minor to attend counseling as deemed appropriate by the court at the expense of the minor’s parents. The court shall take into consideration the ability of the minor’s parents to pay, however, no minor shall be relieved of attending counseling because of the minor’s parents’ inability to pay for the counseling imposed by this section.
(b) For the purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) “Hospital” means a facility for the diagnosis, care, and treatment of human illness that is subject to, or specifically exempted from, the licensure requirements of Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 1250) of Division 2 of the Health and Safety Code.
(2) “School,” as used in this section, means any elementary school, junior high school, four-year high school, senior high school, adult school or any branch thereof, opportunity school, continuation high school, regional occupational center, evening high school, technical school, or community college.
(3) “Park,” as used in this section, means any publicly maintained or operated park. It does not include any facility when used for professional sports or commercial events.

SEC. 4.

 Section 243.2 of the Penal Code is amended to read:

243.2.
 (a) (1) Except as otherwise provided in Section 243.6, when a battery is committed on school property, park property, or the property of a public or private hospital, against any person, the battery is punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or by both the fine and imprisonment.
(2) When a violation of this section is committed by a minor on school property, the court may, in addition to any other fine, sentence, or as a condition of probation, order the minor to attend counseling as deemed appropriate by the court at the expense of the minor’s parents. The court shall take into consideration the ability of the minor’s parents to pay, however, no minor shall be relieved of attending counseling because of the minor’s parents’ inability to pay for the counseling imposed by this section.
(b) For the purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) “Hospital” means a facility for the diagnosis, care, and treatment of human illness that is subject to, or specifically exempted from, the licensure requirements of Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 1250) of Division 2 of the Health and Safety Code.
(2) “Park” means any publicly maintained or operated park. It does not include any facility when used for professional sports or commercial events.
(3) “School” means any elementary school, junior high school, four-year high school, senior high school, adult school or any branch thereof, opportunity school, continuation high school, regional occupational center, evening high school, technical school, or community college.
(c) This section shall not apply to conduct arising during the course of an otherwise lawful labor dispute.

SEC. 5.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.