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Media Coverage of Nurses’ Assault Protection Bill Hearing: WBZ TV Channel 4, Mass. Nurses Push For Protection Bill:

Video coverage of the hearing

BOSTON (WBZ) – There is a new push to protect nurses, who say they often face danger from their own patients.

"I can tell you I have been spit at multiple times by people infected with aids," said State Rep. and former trauma nurse Jennifer Callahan. "I have been almost strangled at the bedside with my own stethoscope."

Registered nurse Kathy Metzger of Signature Care Brockton Hospital also has darks stories from the hospital bedside.

"In the year’s time, 2007, there were more than 1,000 911 calls from inside my institution — not all assaults, but that’s three calls a day," Metzger said.

Before Frank Wojick joined the Beverly Police Department, he worked hospital security.

"The amount of violence I saw at the hospital is far more than I witnesses at the police department," Wojick said.

On Tuesday, they all spoke out in support of a bill that would make it a crime, punishable by two years in prison, to assault a registered nurse or frontline health care worker. EMTs and ambulance workers already have that protection.

Some statistics cited by proponents of the bill — 48-percent of workplace assaults are committed by health care patients.

According to a 2004 Massachusetts nurses survey, 50 percent said they’d been punched at least once in the last two years.

"The stats regarding workplace violence on nurses and health care employees prove these enhancements are necessary," said Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early.

The nurses say this bill would help them because it would allow police officers to file charges against an assailant on the spot. Right now that responsibility is on the victim.

Also, in the Nurses Association survey, more than half of the respondents said workplace violence has become a serious problem with patients committing the majority of violent acts.