KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Nurses Increasingly Target Of Violence; Texas Nurse Case Settled

The Associated Press: "Violence against nurses and other medical professionals appears to be increasing around the country as the number of drug addicts, alcoholics and psychiatric patients showing up at emergency rooms climbs. Nurses have responded, in part, by seeking tougher criminal penalties for assaults against health care workers. … Visits to ERs for drug- and alcohol-related incidents climbed from about 1.6 million in 2005 to nearly 2 million in 2008, according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. From 2006 to 2008, the number of those visits resulting in violence jumped from 16,277 to 21,406, the agency said."

"Nurses and experts in mental health and addiction say the problem has only been getting worse since then because of the downturn in the economy, as cash-strapped states close state hospitals, cut mental health jobs, eliminate addiction programs and curtail other services" (Smyth, 8/10).

The New York Times: "Two nurses agreed Tuesday to split a $750,000 payment from Winkler County, Tex., to settle the lawsuit they filed after being fired and criminally prosecuted for reporting allegations of improper medical treatment by a doctor at the county hospital, their lawyer said." The nurses reported "Dr. Rolando G. Arafiles Jr. to the state medical board in 2009. ...  the nurses' cause was taken up by state and national nursing associations that warned of a chilling effect on the reporting of medical misconduct" (Sack, 8/10).

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