Delaware Workplace Violence Bill Adds Nurses

Publish Date: July 6, 2016


Unfortunately, workplace violence is still prevalent for nurses. There is no federal measure requiring workplace protections, so it is up to states to address the problem via legislation. Legislative solutions thus far include requiring the establishment of a comprehensive prevention program by health care employers as well as increasing penalties for those convicted of assaults of a nurse and / or other health care personnel. Most states already have laws protecting first responders; those states often seek to amend existing statues to add nurses and other health care personnel in non-emergency situations.

Delaware recently used this approach when Representative Helene Keeley introduced a bill, HB 214, which classifies physical injury caused to any nurse performing his or her duties as second-degree assault, a Class D felony punishable by up to eight years in prison. In Delaware, assaults against police officers, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders were automatically classified as second-degree, but prior to the passage of HB 214, only those assaults against nurses providing emergency care were similarly classified as Class D felonies.

Rep. Keeley’s bill had strong support when it passed the House in May, and the Senate unanimously passed it in mid-June. Governor Jack Markell signed HB 214 last week. With this new law, attacking an LPN or RN while they are performing a work-related duty, not only when rendering emergency care, is considered second degree assault. Workplace violence carries negative consequences for both registered nurses and their patients. AORN supports legislative and regulatory initiatives for safe perioperative work environments and accountable patient safety cultures, and is delighted to see Delaware stand up on this important workplace safety issue.

If you are have any questions or are interested in how you can become involved with legislative efforts in your state addressing workplace violence, please contact Danielle Glover at dglover@aorn.org.