Half of Texas' nurses experience workplace violence. A Texas lawmaker says it’s time to protect them.

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Steven D. Powell is a nurse with Texas Medical Center in Houston. Powell said violent patients have left him covered in bruises, but he more regularly faces verbal assaults. Credit: Shelby Tauber for The Texas Tribune

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State Rep. Donna Howard was working as an intensive care unit nurse in the 1970s when a patient pulled an intravenous drip out of his arm and walked toward her. She rushed to help him — but didn’t see the metal urinal he was clutching behind his back until it was too late. He smacked her in the jaw with it, knocking her across the room.

“I was briefly stunned by the hit,” said Howard, then working at the Brackenridge hospital in Austin. “But I continued working.”