For Immediate Release
Contact: Nancy Webber, 518.782.9400, ext. 223
Joely Johnson, 518.782.9400, ext 224
Albany, April 8, 2008 – In the last seven years, Mercy Jaiswal has been physically assaulted three times.
She was beaten with pots filled with hot coffee. She was kicked so powerfully that her leg was covered with a massive bruise that would linger for months. Most recently, she was thrown “like a rag doll,” sustaining a fractured arm that required surgery and six months of recovery time.
Mercy Jaiswal is a registered nurse. All of her injuries occurred when she was at work in a Long Island healthcare facility, delivering professional nursing care to the patients that she “loves so dearly.”
To help deter these shocking attacks, the Nurses Association is promoting a bill (A6186/S3441) aimed at violence against nurses. The proposed bill would make it a Class C felony to assault and cause physical injury to a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse while on duty. This provision already exists for assaults on police officers, peace officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians. The bill was passed by the State Senate on Wednesday, April 2; it now awaits a decision by the Assembly.
Each year, 430,000 nurses become victims of violent crimes in their workplaces, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. These numbers may be low, as there is a severe underreporting of violence against nurses because of the attitude that it is just ‘part of the job.’ Legislation can change this dangerous misperception.
“Nurses need to know that violence against them will be fully prosecuted,” said Tina Gerardi, RN, chief executive officer for the Nurses Association. “And their potential attackers need to know the same thing.”
“Each year thousands of nurses are attacked in the workplace,” said Assemblyman David Koon (D-Perinton), sponsor of the bill. “Violence should not be ‘just part of the job’ for nurses. It is important for the state to establish that violent or abusive acts against nurses will have severe consequences, as they do for attacks on police, firefighters, and emergency service personnel.”
Protecting nurses from attack will also positively impact patients and the nursing shortage. “Violence against nurses affects patients and the quality of patient care,” said Senator Marty Golden (R-Brooklyn), who sponsored the bill in the Senate. “At a time when there is a serious nurse shortage in our state, violence removes nurses from the workforce and discourages others from choosing nursing as a profession.”
NYSNA’s other legislative priorities this year include safe nurse staffing ratios (A6119/S1551), prohibiting mandatory overtime (A1898-B/S6342), and promoting advanced education for RNs (A2480/S294).
With more than 36,000 members, the New York State Nurses Association is the nation's oldest and largest state nurses’ association. NYSNA fosters high standards of nursing education, research, and practice; engages in legislative activity; and provides collective bargaining services to registered nurses. Its mission is to advance the profession of nursing and protect the public's health.