New York Law Makes Assaulting A Nurse A Felony

Nursing Spectrum/Lisette Hilton/November 24, 2010 – For nurses in New York State, Nov. 1 represented a victory for on-the-job safety. It was the day that the Violence Against Nurses law took effect, making it a felony to assault an on-duty RN or LPN.

For many nurses, including those in home health, dealing with violent or abrusive patients and caregivers was considered part of their plight. The New York State Senate passed the legislation in January, noting that according to the U.S. Department of Justice, nearly 500,000 nurses each year become victims of violent crimes in the workplace. Most commonly reported acts of violence include spitting, biting, hitting and shoving.

“Violence in the workplace for nurses is very under-reported. Nurses were either afraid to come forward or not sure if what was happening to them was classified as violence. …,” says Erin Silk, assistant director of communications for the New York State Nurses Association, which has been working to bring the legislation forward since 2008.

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