New law raises fines for assaulting nurses - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

New law raises fines for assaulting nurses

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On Tuesday Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill into law that could help detour assaults on health care providers.

Much like law enforcement, health care can be a very dangerous job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports more than 2,000 nurses nationwide were assaulted, and eight were killed while on the job between 2003 and 2009.

"What we're seeing is that the episodes of those events are happening more often and they're more deviant in nature," Erlanger Hospital Chief Nurse Executive Jan Keys says. "Realizing the setting we're in we're probably more prone to those types of things occurring because patients are here with families at an emotional time in their lives."

That prompted lawmakers to do something and they passed a law that says anyone convicted of assaulting a health care provider will be fined up to $5,000, double the present fine and the same fine for those convicted of assaulting a police officer.

"I think it gives them a sense or it may give them a sense that they are being recognized as being on the front lines," Memorial Hospital Chief Nurse Executive Diona Brown says.

Brown says an incident hasn't happened at Memorial Hospital in years and hopefully this new bill will help keep it that way.

"If there's something out there that can give a person pause before they do something they're going to regret later, I think that's great," says Brown. "I think raising the level of this really does show the value that the community has for the front line people who are there to provide care to patients."

"You want to give the highest quality care that you can and you have to be able to do that without being distracted or in fear of some sort of violent act or retaliation of some sort," says Keys. "This is a great day, this is a good deal."

The new law will take effect July 1.

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