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State task force releases recommendations on how to protect medical workers from violent attacks

Virus Outbreak Maine
Robert F. Bukaty
Central Maine Medical Center is seen, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, in Lewiston, Maine.

The state task force studying violence against hospital workers is recommending that hospitals meet with law enforcement and prosecutors to establish working relationships and ensure that reports documenting violent attacks are adequate to move forward with prosecutions. Jeff Austin of the Maine Hospital Association says it's a good step but keeping victims informed during the process is equally important.

"Having a review with hospitals and law enforcement and prosecutors to ensure we are turning over the right material they need it's a good idea...it can be frustrating for law enforcement and prosecutors to get inconsistent information from one incident to the next....so we should work on that," Austin says.

Austin says that 70% of workplace violence is committed against healthcare workers. Other recommendations include law enforcement training in a healthcare setting, and expanding Maine's criminal code to ensure penalties for assaults on any person in the ER and not just emergency care providers. The Task Force also recommends that the Department of Health and Human Services increase the supply of residential and community placements for patients with behavioral health issues so they are not kept in emergency departments for days on end.