“State Senator Ophelia Ford’s opposition to Senate Bill 2658, which enhances penalties for assaulting health care providers, was not just poorly considered, it was poorly articulated, uninformed and seriously inaccurate. Every day, emergency nurses are verbally and physically assaulted while providing care to patients. Some of those assaults result in serious physical harm, including shattered or broken bones, and dislocated shoulders, head injuries and sometimes even death.
“The problem of violence against emergency nurses is widespread and serious. The Emergency Nurses Association conducts a regular survey of emergency nurses about workplace violence. In 2011, more than half of the 7,000 nurses surveyed reported experiencing verbal assault on the job within the last seven days and more than one in ten reported experiencing physical assault within the same period.
“It is unfortunate that Senator Ford reports having bad experiences with nurses, but to characterize this important and potentially life-saving bill as ‘ludicrous’ and to vehemently oppose it because of isolated incidents taken out of context and applied without rebuttal is shameful and an abdication of her responsibility to the health and welfare of the people of Tennessee.
“Violent incidents in hospitals not only threaten the health and lives of health care providers, but also their patients. Hospitals are places people come to for care and healing. We all need to work together to ensure that they are safe places, and this legislation was designed to accomplish this.
“Despite Senator Ford’s ill-considered objections, the bill passed out of the committee, but only by the slimmest of margins. We strongly urge the full Senate to pass this bill in order to safeguard nurses and other health care providers, so that they can care for the people who come to them for care.”
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ENA is the only professional nursing association dedicated to defining the future of emergency nursing and emergency care through advocacy, expertise, innovation and leadership. Founded in 1970, ENA serves as the voice of 40,000 members and their patients through research, publications, professional development, injury prevention and patient education. Additional information is available at ENA’s website www.ena.org.