WNA Launches Campaign to Protect Nurses From Workplace Violence
Licensed nurses are experiencing on the job workplace violence from patients and/or visitors. The current Criminal Code Wisconsin State Statute 940 provides a listing of workers from certain settings who have experienced incidences of workplace violence in which a Level H Felony can be applied. For licensed nurses the only setting in which a Level H Felony can be applied are for those instances taking place in the emergency department. Unfortunately, the incidences of workplace violence against licensed nurses are taking place in many settings and without the advantage of charging the perpetrator with a Level H Felony.
WNA is trying to have all cases of workplace violence against nurses charged as a Level H Felony, regardless of practice setting.
October 19, 2019 Update
Assembly Bill 175 passed the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Safety on Thursday. This legislation was introduced to enhance the penalties for people who commit violence against nurses, making battery to a nurse a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
The committee discussed two amendments to the bill before casting votes:
- Substitute Amendment 1, which makes it a Class H felony to cause bodily harm to a nurse or individual working under the supervision of a nurse. It also would make it a Class H felony to cause harm to any health care provider working in a hospital. Under current law, the felony charge is applicable only to emergency room workers, EMS personnel and ambulance drivers. (Passed)
- Amendment 1 to Substitute Amendment 1, which exempts the felony enhancer for people who have a brain injury, degenerative brain disorder, development disability or serious and persistent mental illness. (Failed to pass)
Although there was support for the bill overall, there were questions raised about the amendment introduced by State Rep. Mark Spreitzer that would exempt certain populations such as the developmentally disabled from the bill. Spreitzer acknowledged that under current law they could still be charged with a misdemeanor or even a felony if substantial harm results – and that would not change under AB 175 or the amendments. One legislator on the committee mentioned that prosecutors already have the ability to refrain from charging a person with a crime if there is no clear intent.
The final vote was:
- Amendment 1 to Substitute Amendment 1 (failed, 6-7)
- Substitute Amendment 1 (passed, 12-1)
- Assembly Bill 175 final passage as amended (11-2)