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Injured workers: Violence prevalent against New York nurses

The Violence Against Nurses Law became effective in Jan. 2010 when the New York Senate passed the legislation. A perpetrator who assaults a nurse could face felony charges for which the punishment upon conviction could be up to seven years behind bars. Sadly, such attacks remain prevalent, and concerned authorities say injured workers in hospitals should stop seeing it as part of the job.

As recently as March, a nurse in an emergency room in a Staten Island hospital was punched by a patient before he proceeded to use a plastic wire to choke her. Another patient whose blood pressure was being checked punched a nurse in 2016, and in 2015, a man allegedly choked a nurse who was treating him. Furthermore, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) says many assaults go unreported, as nurses are under the misconception that being spit on, punched and choked are par for the course.

NYSNA says not only are nurses hit, beaten, shoved and kicked but they are also exposed verbal abuse, bullying and silent threats. These often go unreported because nurses fear retaliation. Training is offered at several hospitals to teach nurses how to handle such situations and how to protect themselves against attacks by patients.

Injured workers in the nursing profession have a right to pursue workers' compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages. However, a consultation with an experienced New York workers' compensation attorney might be helpful. A lawyer can determine whether there are grounds for a civil lawsuit, which could be filed in conjunction with a workers' comp claim. Compensation received from workers' comp will have to be repaid if a civil court awards a monetary judgment; however, such an award might be considerably more than the workers' comp benefits.

Source:, "'Just part of the job?' -- ER attacks a frightening reality for nurses", Irene Spezzamonte, May 5. 2017

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