Alaska Enacts New Workplace Violence Protections for Emergency Nurses, Other Health Care Workers
June 14, 2018
Des Plaines, Ill. (June 14, 2018) – The Emergency Nurses Association applauds the Alaska legislature and Governor Bill Walker for enacting House Bill 312, a criminal justice reform bill that includes ENA-supported provisions that will help protect emergency nurses from workplace violence. Although aggravated assault in Alaska is already a felony, H.B. 312 will allow prosecutors to seek stronger penalties for those who commit aggravated assault against health care workers, including emergency nurses.
Additionally, it allows law enforcement officers more flexibility in making arrests on-site for those who commit assault in the fourth degree (a misdemeanor) against health care workers. Previously, it was common for law enforcement officers to cite the individual, but leave them at the hospital to receive care from the same individuals they had just assaulted.
Rep. Matt Claman was the original sponsor of the provisions, which were ultimately passed by the legislature as a larger criminal justice reform package. Members of the Alaska ENA State Council were actively involved in the passing of this bill. Dawn Elliott, RN, testified in support of the legislation during a March 19 hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee in Juneau. Alaska ENA President and Government Affairs Chair, Sue Metcalf, MSN, RN, CEN, was also instrumental in supporting the legislation and energizing other ENA members to advocate on its behalf.
”We were able to send two RNs to testify in front of the house when they asked for public comments and I’ve heard their testimonies regarding their recent assaults made a difference,” said Metcalf.“…This was huge for the bedside nurse, knowing we are being listen to and steps are being taken to make our work environment safer.”