DES PLAINES, Ill. (May
4, 2016) – The Emergency Nurses Association
applauds Georgia for becoming the latest state to enhance penalties for
assaulting emergency nurses. Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation yesterday that
increases punishments to five to 20 years for aggravated assault and aggravated
battery when committed against hospital emergency department personnel and
emergency medical services personnel.
Georgia ENA State Council Government Affairs Chair Terri
Sullivan, RN, and colleagues worked tirelessly to advocate for stiffer
penalties. State Reps. Johnnie Caldwell, Sharon Cooper, Rich Golick, Alex
Atwood, Jodi Lott, Debbie Buckner and State Sen. Renee Unterman sponsored and
were instrumental in passing this important legislation. The bill received overwhelming
support in the Georgia legislature, passing 147 to 6 in the House of
Representatives and 51 to 2 in the Senate.
“Standing at the front line of emergency care, we are
grateful for these increased protections,” said ENA President Kathleen E.
Carlson, MSN, RN, CEN, FAEN. “The 24/7 accessibility of EDs, overcrowding, long
wait times, and patients under the influence are just some of the factors contributing
to the epidemic of violence in healthcare. This legislation goes a long way
toward ensuring those offenders are held responsible.”
In March, Utah joined the ranks of states that have enhanced
criminal penalties for attacking emergency nurses. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert
signed a bill increasing the term of imprisonment for assault against
healthcare providers or emergency medical workers when the assault causes
substantial bodily injury.
study published in the Journal
of Emergency Nursing shows an underlying normalization of violence
against healthcare professionals in both the healthcare and law enforcement
systems, preventing effective interventions.
State-specific laws related to workplace violence can be
found here: https://www.ena.org/government/State/Pages/Default.aspx.
About the Emergency
The Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) 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 41,000 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.