NEW YORK NURSE: December 2010
by Erin Silk
As of Nov. 1, it’s a felony in New York State to assault a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse while on duty. This important legislation was hard won by NYSNA, but efforts to inform the public about its enforcement have just begun.
Before announcing the law on Nov. 1, NYSNA assigned a task force to examine the best way to inform the public and encourage nurses to report violence when it occurs. NYSNA’s Violence Task Force crafted the campaign’s message “Assaulting a nurse is a shame. And it’s a crime,” which will be featured on posters in hospitals and other healthcare facilities throughout the state. NYSNA is partnering with the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) and the New York Organization of Nurse Executives (NYONE) to ensure that the message is posted in facilities to increase awareness among nursing staff and the public they serve.
As important as public outreach is connecting with all nurses to encourage them to report violence on the job. The Violence Task Force is exploring avenues for training to help facilities work with employees to be proactive in preventing violence and properly notify authorities when it occurs.
Along with the support of their union representatives, NYSNA members will have additional resources available to them in the event that they are the victims of violence. A toolkit that is being created by NYSNA will include nurses’ rights and what to expect after an act of violence occurs, the process of hospital intervention, and other supportive resources. Members will be able to access the materials on NYSNA’s web site or request them from nursing representatives.
Above all, NYSNA reminds you that if you are the victim of violence, proper reporting is essential to the judicial process. “Providing for a felony charge against those who assault an RN or LPN at work will encourage employers to take action to address violence that occurs in the workplace and signals to nurses that it’s time to speak up about the violence they experience on the job,” said Tina Gerardi, NYSNA CEO. “Any deterrent that encourages a potential attacker to think before they assault a nurse on duty is a positive step towards increased safety for everyone.”
Watch for campaign materials to be posted in your facility, and help spread the word to fellow nurses that violence is no longer “just part of the job.”