New Tennessee Law Protects Nurses from Violence

New Tennessee Law Protects Nurses from Violence

There are now steep penalties for those who attack nurses and emergency responders.
MEMPHIS, TN ( - There are now steep penalties for those who attack nurses and emergency responders. Governor Bill Haslam signed a bill expanding the protection for health care providers. Violence against health care workers is more than triple the rate of any other profession.

When emergency responders are called to help victims, they have to prepare for the worst; sometimes their lives are at risk. But now they're hoping this new law will help change that.

"I deal with victims that have been in car crashes to domestic violence," said Collierville Fire Department Battalion Todd Frazier.

Frazier has seen it all. He also works in the emergency room at Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital, and with more than 30 years of experience, he says this new law was needed.

"It's very comforting that we do have that protection for us," said Frazier. "We have to go home to our families the next day too."

Governor Haslam signed House Bill 306 into law this week. It expands the current law that protected officers from being assaulted. Now, it covers firefighters, emergency responders, nurses, and other health care providers. Depending on the assault, people can face double the fines and even jail time.

"We do provide security down here at the emergency department through the hospital here," said Clinical Director for the emergency room at Methodist Germantown, Kelli Zimmerman. "You do feel safe but there are times that a patient does get out of control."

Many healthcare officials have to deal with patients that are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, making it a hostile situation for workers.

"There is violence: emotional sometimes physical, mental, and verbal abuse," said Zimmerman.

Health care providers say this law will help ease some of those concerns and allow them to do their job.

"We do come into our shift work wanting to help people, wanting the best outcome for each patient, and we want to be able to come in and feel safe and be protected as well," she said.

The new law goes in effect on July 1. Anyone who assaults a nurse or a health care provider can face up to a $5,000 fine.
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