Nurses want protection against ED violence

Nurses in Massachusetts have finally had enough of violence in emergency departments. They want a law passed to make it just as illegal to assault nurses and doctors as it is to attack ambulance crews, firemen and women, and police officers.

Stephanie Embrey had enough after being punched in the stomach, subsequently becoming more afraid to go to work for fear of being hurt again. She and other nurses are concerned that the state's attempts to make the emergency room more comfortable by making security officers less obvious has also emboldened upset patients and their families.

The anecdotal evidence is clear: In 2004 half of nurses surveyed had been punched in the last two years, and 25 percent said they had been frequently punched, kicked, scratched, or even bitten. However, the state only keeps track of assault cases in which the employee is injured badly enough to miss one or more days of work.

Nurses want to see conditions improved before the first day of the new year, when a law goes into effect prohibiting Massachusetts hospitals from redirecting ambulances when their emergency rooms are full. They fear that overcrowded waiting rooms will only exacerbate the problem.

To learn more about the legislation that is being proposed:
- read this Boston Globe piece