During the 2023 legislative session, IHA’s government relations team worked to ensure the passage of HEA 1021. The language of the new law elevates penalties for attacks on all staff in Indiana emergency departments, effective July 1, 2023. Before HEA 1021 was passed, it was a Class B misdemeanor to commit battery, and a Class A misdemeanor if the battery resulted in bodily injury (no matter who the battery was committed against). However, if the battery was committed against a “public safety official,” the penalty was enhanced to a Level 6 penalty (6 months-2.5 years in prison). Likewise, if the battery committed against a public safety official resulted in bodily injury, the crime was enhanced to a Level 5 penalty (1-6 years in prison).
The term “public safety official” formerly included emergency medical service providers, defined as physicians, nurses, paramedics, and EMTs. However, the term was not more expansive to include other health care staff. HEA 1021 now includes all staff members of an emergency department of a hospital within the definition of “public safety official” so that all staff members of an emergency department, including aides, environmental staff, support staff, and technicians, are afforded the enhanced penalties for battery.
The language in HEA 1021 was a part of IHA’s 2023 legislative agenda and a component of the association’s Board-led “Safe and Sound” initiative to improve workforce safety. IHA is grateful to 2022 Chairman Brad Smith of Rush Memorial Hospital for creating this initiative and IHA’s Council on Quality and Patient Safety Chairman, Larry Tracy of Memorial Hospital of South Bend, for his testimony supporting the language that has now passed into law.