Joint Committee on Judiciary Holds March 11 Hearing On Bill to Increase Criminal Penalties for Assaulting Nurses
Worcester County DA Joseph Early, Jr. to Testify in Support of the Measure
Nurses are Assaulted as Much as Police Officers and Prison Guards Yet Oftentimes No Action is Taken Against Perpetrators
The Joint Committee on Judiciary has scheduled a hearing on Tuesday, March 11, 2008, beginning at 1 p.m. for testimony on a bill sponsored by State Rep. Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport) that will make it a crime, punishable by up to two 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, An Act Relative to Assault and Battery on Health Care Providers, recognizes and addresses a growing crisis in the health and safety of RNs and other health professionals who suffer violent assaults at a rate 12 times higher than other industries. In a 2004 survey of Massachusetts nurses, 50 percent indicated they had been punched at least once in the last two years. The violence against nurses can be perpetrated by patients, families, friends or visitors (including gang members). In fact, nurses are assaulted at work on a par with police officers and prison guards, yet oftentimes no action is taken against those who attack nurses.
Testifying at the hearing will be law enforcement officials including Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr., a strong supporter of the bill, as well as recent victims of workplace violence, including emergency department nurses from Cambridge and Beverly who were both attacked by patients; and a nurse from Brockton Hospital who will detail problems with violence at the facility.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 at 1 p.m.
State House, Hearing Room A1
David Schildmeier, 781.249.0430 (For more information, background on bill, or to schedule interviews).