Workplace Violence

Legislature Holds Hearings on Three Important Bills for Nurses and Patients

10.31.2005

 H. 684, An Act Relative to Assault and Battery on Health Care Providers
Joint Committee on Judiciary
Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2005, hearing begins at 1 p.m., State House, Room B-2

This bill, sponsored by Rep. Michael Rodrigues would make it a crime, punishable by up to 2 ½ years in prison, to assault a registered nurse and other frontline health care professionals. Currently, only EMTs and ambulance drivers are covered under such a law. The bill recognizes and addresses a growing crisis in the health and safety of RNs and other health professionals who are regularly assaulted on the job. In fact, RNs are assaulted on the job to the same degree as police officers and prison guards, yet oftentimes no action is taken against those who attack nurses. The MNA filed this bill after one nurse, who had been viciously attacked and beaten by a patient, was told by a court official that such treatment was to be expected, as "this was part of your job."

 H. 2662, An Act Relating to Safe Patient Handling in Certain Health Care Facilities
Joint Committee on Public Health
Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2005; hearing begins at 10 a.m., State House, Gardner Auditorium

This bill, also filed by the MNA and sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Callahan, would require hospitals to provide a system to assist nurses with safe patient handling to avoid injury. Recent studies show that nursing is the profession most associated with work-related muscular skeletal injuries, and that nearly 12 out of every 100 hospital-based nurses report work-related injuries (particularly back injuries). One-third of these nurses also reported their injuries were directly connected to moving/lifting patients. Instituting a policy specific to this problem is the key to protecting nurses and to reducing the system-wide costs that are spent on treating nurses who are debilitated by otherwise preventable muscular skeletal injuries.

H. 2666, An Act Further Regulating Hospitals
Joint Committee on Public Health
Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2005, beginning at 10 a.m., State House, Gardner Auditorium

This bill, filed by Rep. Jim Marzilli, and supported by the MNA, would give the state the legal authority to intervene and save any hospital that is deemed essential to the health of the community it serves. The bill responds to a growing crisis in Massachusetts, where free-market, cut-throat competition endorsed and perpetrated by the hospital industry through deregulation over the last 15 years has led to the closure of more than 30 facilities, many if not most of those facilities were deemed essential to the health of their communities. Right now, hospitals slated for closure are only required to give notice to the public. DPH, and by extension, the state, has no authority to intervene and protect the facility from closure. A case in point was the recent closure of Waltham Hospital. After notice was given of its pending closure, the DPH held public hearings and deemed the facility an essential service to the greater Waltham community. While the community rallied to try and keep it open, competing hospitals eventually worked to undermine the weakened facility and forced it into closure. Right now the residents of Gloucester are fighting to save Addison Gilbert Hospital, which is struggling to survive in the face of numerous attempts by its corporate owner to gut its services and force it into closure.

The MNA, along with other advocates, experts and those impacted by these issues will be offering testimony at these hearings. Those who have an interest in these issues are invited to attend the hearings and/or contract their legislators to express their support for these measures.

Contact your legislator to express your support for these measures. Members of the media who want to interview sources for comment on these bills, call David Schildmeier at 781.249.0430; or email him at dschildmeier@mnarn.org.