A bill introduced by Ohio Rep. Denise Driehaus, D-Cinnanati, and Rep. Lina Bolon, D-Columbiana, would make assaulting a nurse a fourth-degree felony.
Currently, assault is treated as a first-degree misdemeanor; penalties include up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1000. A fourth-degree felony is punishable by prison terms between six and 18 monhts and a fine up to $5000.
The Ohio Nurses Association praised the bill, which addresses the increasingly common problem of violence against nurses in the workplace. In 2006, 86% of surveyed emergency room nurses reported being a victim of workplace violence sometime in the previous three years. Some studies suggest that nurses are particularly at risk. According to the AFL-CIO, nurses experience workplace crime at a rate 78% greater than med techs and more than twice the rate of other medical field workers.
Ohio has passed similar legislation in recent years, imposing stiffer penalties for assaulting police officers, fire fighters and emergency service workers.
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