COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Ohio Nurses Association (ONA) and the Ohio Emergency Nurses Association praise today's signing of House Bill 62 – the Assault Against Healthcare Workers Bill – by Governor Kasich. Taking effect in 90 days, the bill increases the penalty for assault against nurses and other healthcare professionals. Specifically, House Bill 62:
- Increases the penalty for assault to a fifth degree felony when the offender has previously been convicted of an assault against healthcare workers;
- Authorizes a $5,000 fine for assault against healthcare workers; and
- Authorizes hospitals to post warning signs indicating that abuse or assault of hospital staff will not be tolerated and could result in a felony conviction.
"This is a great victory for Ohio nurses," said Gingy Harshey-Meade, MSN, RN CAE, NEA-BC, CEO of the Ohio Nurses Association. "Violence against nurses in the workplace is a nationwide epidemic and this bill sends a clear message that it will not be tolerated."
Data shows that nurses have the highest risk of becoming a victim of an assault in the workplace. The National Crime Victimization Survey (1993-1999) found that the average annual rate for nonfatal violent crime was 21.9 per 1,000 workers for nurses, compared with only 12.6 per 1,000 workers for all other occupations. This study prompted many others and data continues to show the prevalence of violence against nurses. In a study by the Emergency Nurses Association, an astounding 86% of emergency room nurses indicated that they had been physically assaulted at work during the three preceding years. The same study indicated that nearly 20% of nurses report that they experience violence frequently. Furthermore, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), of all nonfatal assaults in and violent acts against healthcare practitioners that involved days off work in 2006, 45% were committed against registered nurses. The BLS also reported that in 2009, over 2,050 assaults against RNs were reported, requiring an average of four days away from work.
"Nurses and other health care workers have an obligation to protect the patients under their care, and hospital staff should have the right to work in an environment that is free of violent acts and/or threats of violence. This law is essential to not only protect Ohio's Healthcare workforce, but also the patients we all serve," stated Nick Chmielewski, MSN, RN, CEN, NE-BC, Director and Government Affairs Liaison for the Ohio Emergency Nurses Association.
Less than 20% of nurses surveyed by the American Nurses Association reported they feel safe in their current work environment and many nurses leave the profession citing fear of their personal safety. "This bill serves a critical first step in not only reducing workplace violence, but also reducing fear among nurses," explained Harshey-Meade.
SOURCE Ohio Nurses Association