Governor Steve Beshear today ceremonially signed Senate Bill 58, granting greater protection to emergency room workers who may treat individuals under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The provision, sponsored by Sen. John Schickel and approved during this year's legislative session, amends state law to allow peace officers to make an arrest or issue a citation for a 4th degree assault that occurs in a hospital emergency room, even if the officer didn't witness the crime, as long as the officer has probable cause to believe the offense occurred.
"Hospital emergency personnel treat individuals in the worst of conditions -- and sometimes that means putting themselves at risk, if a patient comes in intoxicated or high," Gov. Beshear said. "This law gives medical staff the security of knowing that an offender will be held accountable for an assault that takes place when they're brought in for care."
Previously, a hospital worker would have to go to a courthouse to swear out a warrant for the assault.
"Senate Bill 58 helps address the issue of violence within emergency rooms, said Sen. Schickel, of Union. "It is important to ensure the safety of not only those seeking medical attention who are at their most vulnerable, but also to protect medical professionals from harm when all they are doing is their jobs."
Assault in the fourth degree is a Class A misdemeanor.