One of the most appalling humanitarian emergencies in the country today is the state of care in American hospitals. We have witnessed a shocking disregard for patient care, ignoring of science and basic medical norms, forcible use of toxic drugs like remdesivir, denying family members visitation, and discriminating against people based on medical choices, including denying organs to those who don’t get the shots. Yet rather than redressing the inhumane treatment in the hospitals with a new patient bill of rights, a New Hampshire bill now seeks to criminalize those who dissent and debate doctors when they believe the hospital is mistreating their loved one.
File this under Republicans who don’t know what time it is. On March 31, the New Hampshire Senate passed SB 459, a bill that lowers the threshold needed to arrest someone at a health care facility without a warrant. Dubbed the “Workplace Violence Prevention Program,” this bill defines workplace violence as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening behavior that occurs at a health facility, including verbal abuse, without regard to whether the victim sustains an injury, psychological trauma, or stress.”
What happens to such a person? Section 4 allows arrests without warrant if there is probable cause to believe that the person, among other things, will cause problems or “through actual or threatened violence, interfere in the provision of medically necessary health care services.”
In any other era, I wouldn’t think twice about this bill. After all, none of us believe in violence and certainly not directed toward doctors. But where is this bill coming from, and where is it headed, and in what context? I have been inundated with people in distress after doctors refused to talk to them, threw people on ventilators against scientific rationale, blocked medical records, forcibly confiscated prescriptions and vitamins, and often engaged in medical kidnapping by refusing to release the patient upon his request. In other cases, they have called child protective services if they feel the parent is not going along with their novel treatment ideas for a minor patient.
One such case was from a Michigan woman whose daughter was being denied a kidney transplant for not getting the shot. She joined me on my podcast and divulged that a doctor at Spectrum Health/Helen Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids filed a form 3200 medical neglect report with Michigan Child Protective Services.
What this all means is that family members are now under a tremendous amount of stress, often dealing with hospitals that will take someone who is nominally sick and then tell them they are on their deathbed a day later. Obviously, patient families will be distraught and have a lot of questions for the doctors. Nobody condones violence, but clearly most of these people have not threatened to engage in violence. Under this bill, medical personnel could easily say they feel “harassed,” “intimidated,” or are a recipient of “verbal abuse.” They can certainly say the spouse is “interfere[ing] in the provision of medically necessary health care services.”
Why would they pass such a bill now if they have nothing to hide and there is no systemic problem with treatment, protocols, and transparency in hospitals today? Just last week, a hospital in Pennsylvania threatened to call security on my cousin for advocating on behalf of his mother, who was being mistreated. No sane person would have perceived a threat of physical violence from him when he was challenging them and asking for medical records.
The medical media is decrying a trend of violence against medical personnel. Republican-controlled legislatures in Wisconsin and Utah even passed bills making violence against medical officials a felony, although those bills didn’t lower the threshold for arrest like the New Hampshire bill does. Let’s just concede for argument’s sake that they are telling the truth and, along with more acrimonious conversations with doctors and nurses, there have been instances of violence. Why isn’t anyone wondering why there is such an increase recently?
This trend runs parallel with the evidence that there is more violence against flight attendants over the past two years. While anyone who actually engages in violence should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, isn’t it obvious that this is one of the many consequences of treating people inhumanely both in hospitals and on airplanes? So rather than further clamp down on people, why don’t we address the root cause of the desperate behavior from people being mistreated?
At a time when we need to strengthen patients’ rights and investigate the behavior of these hospitals, Republican legislators are ignoring the cries of thousands and kowtowing to the hospital lobby juggernaut, possibly the most influential special interest in every state legislature.The trend of weaponizing health care and medical workers to criminalize dissent, human rights, bodily autonomy, and the right to choose in treatment should disturb everyone. The fact that they want to silence this debate by calling the police is most revealing of all.