New York State’s Governor David Paterson signed into law the Violence Against Nurses bill (A.3103-A; S.4018) that would make assaulting a nurse a felony. This was a legislative priority of the New York State Nurses Association.Nurses face violence in the workplace every day, whether from a delirious patient, an angry family members, someone who is irrational from substance abuse, or an abusive physician who throws instruments in the OR. Too often, nurses are expected to put up with this violence and their workplaces rarely follow up with charges against the assaulter.
It will be interesting to follow what changes as a result of this bill. Will hospitals file felony charges against the surgeon? Should an assaultive but delirious (a condition that is now considered a medical emergency) patient be charged with a felony?
Diana J. Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN, Rudin Professor of Nursing