WHAT: More than 200 nurses from across the Commonwealth, many of whom are the victims of workplace violence, will converge at the State House for a press conference and lobby day, where they will push for passage of a package of bills designed to address what has become a growing crisis in the health care sector. One of those bills, HB1696/SB1753, which will stiffen the penalties of those who assault nurses, is scheduled to be voted on by the House of Representatives the same day. The event is being hosted by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which will hold a press conference on March 31, 2010 beginning at 11:30 a.m. and will feature remarks from nurses assaulted on the job.
A June 2008 study showed that workers in the healthcare sector are 16 times more likely to be confronted with violence on the job than any other service profession. A study by the Emergency Nurses Association in the spring of 2007 found that more than half of emergency nurses reported experiencing physical violence on the job. In a 2004 survey of Massachusetts nurses, 50 percent indicated they had been punched at least once in the last two years, and 25-30 percent were regularly pinched, scratched or spit on or had their hand twisted. In fact, nurses are assaulted at work on a par with police officers and prison guards. Yet most hospitals and health care employers in the state fail to adequately address the issue of workplace violence and very often provide little or no support to employees who are attacked on the job.
Following the press conference, nurses will be making visits to their legislators to seek their support for the Assault Bill and two other measures; SB988 which will require health care employers to develop and implement programs to prevent workplace violence; and HB1931 which will create a special difficult to manage unit in the Department of Mental Health to treat repeat perpetrators of violence.
WHO: MNA leaders and experts will outline the scope of the problem and present solutions. Victims of workplace violence who will describe their experiences include an emergency department nurse at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center who was exposed to HIV and Hepatitis C when a patient swung at her and dislodged an IV line; an emergency department nurse from Morton Hospital in Taunton who will detail ongoing problems with violence at a number of facilities where she has worked; and a nurse from Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield who will discuss multiple assaults while working on a psychiatric unit. The MNA will also try to identify nurses from your coverage area who might be in attendance for comment on the issue.
WHEN: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 11:30 a.m.
WHERE: State House, Hearing Room B2
CONTACT: David Schildmeier, 781-249-0430 (For more information, background on bills or to schedule interviews)