Nurses Push for Safer Workplaces

Nurses Push for Safer Workplaces

Have you ever experience violence in the workplace?

The Sun (Lowell, Massachusetts)

July 16, 2009

BOSTON — Nurses joined supportive lawmakers in Boston yesterday to push for stronger protections against violence in the workplace where they say caregivers are increasingly at risk of assault.

A legislative committee heard testimony on a bill that would create mandatory minimum sentences for assault and battery against a registered nurse who is providing health care.

The bill, heard by the Joint Committee on Judiciary, would send offenders to jail for a minimum of 90 days and up to 2 1/2 years for assaulting a nurse.

“When someone says, ‘How can I help you?’ they don’t deserve to be assaulted,” said Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, a Leominster Democrat whose mother works as a life-flight nurse at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester and an emergency-room nurse at HealthAlliance Hospital/Leominster.

The bill has the solid backing of Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early, who testified in favor of the bill because he believes it will serve as a bigger deterrent than current assault laws.

“Our nurses are pretty much the angels of the floors and when we see so many being assaulted, we have to do something,” Early said.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association says nurses and other health professionals are 12 times more likely to suffer violent assaults than workers in other industries.

Sound Off! Have You Ever Been Abused By a Patient?

Citing a survey conducted five years ago by the University of Massachusetts Labor Center in Amherst, the union contends that 50 percent of nurses will be assaulted at least once every two years while on the job.

“This is not fair. This is not just. And this cannot be tolerated,” Flanagan said.

Among those testifying yesterday was Carol McGuane, an Ayer resident who said she has been assaulted at least 10 times during her 32-year career as a nurse at HealthAlliance Hospital/Leominster.

McGuane recently won a settlement against a woman who punched her in the face at the hospital last July.

Emergency medical technicians and ambulance drivers are already protected under a law passed in 1989 creating a mandatory minimum 90-day sentence for assault. Nurses were not included in that bill.

© YellowBrix 2009

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    I must concur with rebelrose, nurses and other health care staff are often in danger, however the emphasis is on patient safety. Patient safety is a primary concern, but nurse and other staff safety should be equally important. Everyone I work with, or nearly everyone, has an major abuse story, from serious, blood drawn, bites, punched, slapped, hit, or "beat up", not to mention verbal abuse. Nurses and all health care worker need protection.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    Working in LTC, the staff is freq. physically assaulted by confused and frightened clients. The more frightening and less reported "assaults" come from family members. These people are usually "bullies" in their private lives and it spills over into our professional lives. Example: The 6'6" son yelling at the charge nurse and emphasizing each word with the fork he held in his hand.
    All this in a dining room full of other clients that were frightened for themselves and the nurse. Some, just frightened or disturbed by the yelling. Why was he angry? A CNA told him that she thought his father had a UTI. Without allowing the charge nurse to explain after he was told that we had no lab pick-up on weekends, he went off the deep end. He then went to his phone called the Hospice Nurse, On-Call, returned even angrier, yelling that the charge nurse did not know how to obtain a urine specimen. After a 3-way conversation with the Hospice Nurse, our Charge Nurse explained the limited lab pick-up schedule, insisted that the Hospice Nurse do her job and come to the facility and obtain a specimen, that she could take to the lab of her choice. Do you see the absurdity of this entire needless situation? The CNA was suspended without pay, the Hospice Nurse was reported to her supervisor for making a bad situation worse by not speaking directly with our Charge Nurse and learning the facts .......and the angry, threatening, bully was ignored, his behavior tolerated by management. What is he going to do the next time he gets angry and refuses to listen? Though this Charge Nurse put this bully in his place verbally, in a very professional manner, who is next? Now the staff tip-toes around him out of fear of his explosive temper. Working 3rd shift usually keeps me out of the stupid loop, but this one needs some attention. To quote a real character in TV land, "Nip it, Nip it in the bud". Barney Fife

  • L_d429ebaf7b9649228c8a4355ee9c8cdc_max50


    over 5 years ago


    Nurses should be! Some people just don't show nurse's any respect at all! They think they can talk to them however they want and treat them however they want. Granted patients are usually in the hospital because they don't feel good (duh!) so they may be cranky or just plain rude....but there is never an excuse for abuse, period!

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