Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter for has signed into law a bill that makes it a felony to assault or batter emergency nurses. Violators could face up to three years in state prison if convicted.
Growing recognition of the problem
"The quick action by Gov. Otter and Idaho's legislature and the fact that Idaho is the 30th state to enact felony legislation on violence against emergency nurses shows the growing recognition of this problem," said Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) President Deena Brecher, MSN, RN, APN, ACNS-BC, CEN, CPEN.
Brecher called upon the state’s law enforcement officials to vigorously enforce the new law.
70% report assaults
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, an assault on a healthcare worker is the most common source of nonfatal injury or illness that requires days off from work in the healthcare and social assistance industry. More than 70 percent of emergency nurses reported physical or verbal assaults by patients or visitors while they were providing care.
"Assaults on emergency nurses have lasting impacts on the nurses and the ability of emergency care facilities to provide quality care," Brecher said. "As a result, we lose experienced and dedicated nurses to physical or psychological trauma for days or sometimes permanently."