Senator Golden Takes Legislative Action To Protect Nurses From Harm

Martin J. Golden

June 05, 2007

Albany- State Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C, Brooklyn) today led State Senate passage of legislation (S. 3441) that will protect nurses from assault on the job, a crime estimated to impact 500,000 individuals annually by the United States Department of Justice. The legislation adds registered nurses and licensed practical nurses to the professions protected under current law which charges those who assault, in an attempt to prevent the performance of duty, with a Class D violent felony. An assault resulting in serious injury would be charged as a Class C violent felony.

Nurses, especially those working in emergency rooms, are very often first responders and are at risk working on the front lines. Currently, police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians are protected under this law. The current law has overlooked the important role that nurses play and the need to allow for the same protections for them.

Senator Marty Golden, the legislative sponsor, stated, "Those who have chosen to become a nurse by profession have answered a very important and critical calling by choosing to stand on the front lines of medical care. Many times, it is the nurses who are the first person we see in a medical situation and knowing that, we can not forget the fact that they are regularly in harms way in an emergency. We must protect them and keep them safe so to protect our well-being as well as their own."

Golden continued, "Even more importantly, at this time we face a severe nursing shortage in New York. These protections are necessary so that those who aspire to become nurses are not deterred by the prevalence of violence in the workplace. With this legislation, we send a strong message to those who wish to be confrontational with nurses that we will no longer accept any improper behavior which prevents the administering of first aid. We will stand up for the rights of all nurses, protect them, and provide them the best opportunities to serve the people of New York at their most vulnerable times."

"The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), the largest and oldest nurses association in the nation, was an early supporter of the workplace violence protection bill. "Registered nurses across New York State are in full support of this legislation that will help protect nurses in the workplace," said Tina Gerardi, NYSNA interim chief executive officer. "This bill will increase the penalty for anyone who attacks a nurse – a patient’s most trusted advocate in the health care setting."

The bill was sent to the Assembly.