Former Resurgens president advocates for increased penalties for violence against healthcare workers


A Georgia state senate committee led by a former orthopedic surgeon is asking the General Assembly to consider harsher penalties for attacks on healthcare workers, The Albany Herald reported Dec. 7.

Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, MD, R-Marietta, is chair of a study committee that looked into violence against healthcare workers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A study by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration released in April 2020 found healthcare workers accounted for about half of all victims of workplace violence.

Dr. Kirkpatrick presented the study committee's report Dec. 6, encouraging hospital leaders to train healthcare workers to de-escalate potentially violent incidents and defend themselves.

However, Dr. Kirkpatrick said legislation to address the issue of violence against healthcare workers is unlikely, as  criminal justice experts believe existing laws cover violence in healthcare workplaces.

"There are already penalties in place for aggravated assault and aggravated battery," she told the publication. "I can’t promise legislation is going to happen or would pass if it’s proposed."

The committee's final report will head to the full state Senate in time for the General Assembly to consider it in January.

Dr. Kirkpatrick has worked as a hand surgeon for more than 30 years. She also was president of Atlanta-based Resurgens Orthopaedics.

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