Plaines, Ill. (June 30, 2016)
– The Emergency
applauds Delaware for becoming the latest state to
better protect emergency nurses from assault. Gov. Jack Markell signed
legislation this week to clarify under what circumstances emergency personnel
are covered under the law
governing assault in
the second degree, which is a felony in Delaware.
Previously, for a violent attack to rise
to the level of assault in the second degree against an ambulance operator, a
rescue squad member, licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, paramedic or
licensed medical doctor, the victim must have been rendering emergency
The new law now makes it a second-degree
assault to attack an ambulance operator, a rescue squad member, licensed
practical nurse, registered nurse, paramedic or licensed medical doctor while
such person is performing a work-related duty, even if the victim is not
specifically rendering emergency care at the time. Furthermore, it expands
protection to any person providing emergency care.
“At one Delaware hospital, the number of
calls to police to deal with disorderly patients reportedly jumped 300 percent
from 2014 to 2015,” said ENA President Kathleen E. Carlson, MSN, RN, CEN, FAEN.
“A federal GAO study released in March reported that workers in healthcare
facilities experience higher estimated rates of nonfatal workplace violence
than workers overall.
“This is an important issue and I want
to thank the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Helene Keeley, and Delaware ENA President
Kara Streets and Government Affairs Committee Chair Kelly Green-O'Shaughnessy
for their efforts in making sure this bill became law.”
The bill had overwhelming support in the
Delaware legislature. On May 10, it passed the House on a 36-1 vote. The Senate
voted unanimously to approve it on June 14.
In recent months, both Utah and Georgia
joined the ranks of states enhancing the criminal penalties for assaulting
emergency nurses. More needs to be done, however. A 2014 study published in the
of Emergency Nursing
shows an underlying normalization of violence
against healthcare professionals in both the healthcare and law enforcement
systems, preventing effective interventions.
About the Emergency Nurses
The Emergency Nurses Association is the premier professional nursing
association dedicated to defining the future of emergency nursing through
advocacy, education, research, innovation and leadership. Founded in 1970, ENA
has proven to be an indispensable resource to the global emergency nursing
community. With more than 42,000 members worldwide, ENA advocates for patient
safety, develops industry-leading practice standards and guidelines and guides
emergency healthcare public policy. ENA members have expertise in triage,
patient care, disaster preparedness and all aspects of emergency care.
Additional information is available at www.ena.org.