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Published on Friday, March 6, 2015

Bill requiring security of violent and sexual offenders in hospitals passes off Senate floor

Currently, Washington law does not require law enforcement to secure or accompany to a hospital a patient who is in custody for a violent or sexual crime. SB 5593, sponsored by Sen. Bruce Dammeier (R-Puyallup), would change that by requiring law enforcement to accompany violent and sexual offenders who are brought to a hospital while in their custody. SB 5593 unanimously passed off of the Senate floor Thursday, March 5. It will now be sent to the House for consideration.

This bill is the result of negotiations and compromise between hospitals and law enforcement to address concerns for both. Hospitals have been concerned about security with potentially violent offenders and law enforcement for cities and counties are concerned about the cost of health care for inmates. AWC is supportive of this compromise measure.

Specifically, under SB 5593, an individual does not need to be accompanied or otherwise secured if:

  1. The individual's medical care provider so indicates; or
  2. The law enforcement officer determines that:
    1. The individual does not present an imminent and significant risk of causing physical harm to themselves or another person;
    2. There is no longer sufficient evidentiary basis to maintain the individual in custody;
    3. Or in the interest of public safety, the presence of the law enforcement officer is urgently required at another location and the public safety interest outweighs the need to accompany or secure the individual in the hospital.

If the medical care provider determines the individual does not need to be accompanied or otherwise secured, the officer or guard has no ongoing duty to oversee the individual for the duration of their treatment by the hospital. If the officer or guard determines that the individual does not need securing, the officer or guard must notify the medical care provider.

Liability

Law enforcement officers, corrections officers, guards supplied by a law enforcement or corrections agency, and their employing departments, agencies, and representatives are immune from civil liability arising out of the failure to comply with this act, unless it is shown that, in the totality of the circumstances, the officer or agency acted with gross negligence or bad faith.

Payment

A payment rate structure is created for hospital services provided to patients who are the financial responsibility of the law enforcement entity. Unless other rates are agreed to by the governing unit and the hospital, the hospital must accept as payment in full by the governing units the applicable facility's percent of allowed charges rate or fee schedule as determined, maintained, and posted by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

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