Wednesday, June 01, 2011

St. Rep. Gonzales Announces Passage of Legislation to Protect Ohio Health Care Workers

COLUMBUS—State Representative Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville) today announced the passage of Substitute House Bill 62 from the Ohio House of Representatives.
Sub. House Bill 62, which Gonzales introduced in January, strives to protect nurses, health care professionals and other health care workers from on-duty assaults. It increases the potential penalty for the offense of assault to a fourth-degree felony if the victim is engaged in the performance of his or her duties at a hospital when attacked.
“As lawmakers, it is important that we take a stand against the violent assaults that nurses often face on a day-to-day basis,” Gonzales said. “This is a multi-faceted issue with many different strategies for addressing it, but House Bill 62 is a critical first step toward finding a lasting solution that protects Ohio’s nurses and others who work in health care.”
Currently, the Ohio Revised Code makes the assault of a police officer, firefighter, EMS worker or teacher a felony that carries increased penalties. However, there are no such protections for Ohio’s health care workers, who experience the greatest number of assaults in all practice settings, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A 2006 survey conducted by the Emergency Nurses Association found that 86 percent of emergency room nurses had experienced violence on the job during the preceding three-year period. More than 25 percent of respondents experienced 20 or more violent incidents—including being hit, punched, shoved, scratched, kicked or spat upon—during that same period.
The U.S. Department of Justice reported that each year, nearly 500,000 nurses are victims of violent crimes in the workplace. While patients themselves are often the perpetrators, family members and visitors are also likely to be the offenders.
Sub. House Bill 62 passed by a vote of 85-12 and will now move to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.