Hospital Discourages Pressing Charges Against Assaultive Patients

  1. A few of us nurses were assaulted last month by a patient who was in a rage. In a matter of minutes, the patient injured 4 people, including two other patients.
    Administration subtlely discouraged pressing charges. Granted, I was only bruised, nothing broken, and my nurse manager was also. The manager is not pressing charges.
    Why would the hospital discourage this? P.S. the aggressor is a 14 year old girl.
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    About Meerkat

    Joined: May '05; Posts: 501; Likes: 6
    Forensic/Acute Psych Nurse


  3. by   GooeyRN
    They probably want to keek the pt and her family happy, so they come back to your psych hospital next time instead of going elsewhere. Does she have good insurance? When I worked psych, admin wanted us to do whatever possible to keep the pts w/ good insurance happy so they would keep coming back.
  4. by   58flyer
    I agree with Gooey that it's probably about $$$. Keep'em coming back if they're a paying customer. But you would think that worker's comp claims would make management strike a balance somewhere.

    Have to ask, just how did Administration go about "subtlely" discouraging you from filing charges? Did they treat you to dinner and ask you very sweetly not to file? That's about the only way they would talk me out of exercising my rights, and filet and lobster ain't cheap.
  5. by   DusktilDawn
    It could be about money and it could also be about negative publicity, especially since this incident involves a minor. I also think too many in upper management consider abusive behavior to be part of the job.
  6. by   Mama Val
    Please tell me you told Admin to shut up and you filed assault charges did do it........right?????
    Sorry big advocate for nurses safety...because we really don't have any.
    Seen to many injured nurses that didn't need to get hurt.
    How many of you were trained in school to deal one on one with a schizo meth head in withdrawals.
    Or did you learn on the job how to talk fast while you and duck and weave.
    If you let any patient assault you and they do not have face the consequences of their actions then your telling the patient its ok to hit the next nurse who comes on duty or the patient in the next bed. Would you want your child laying in that bed...scary but think about it. This time a bruise and you don't do anything so next time its a skull fracture and its too late for that person. It all starts somewhere.
    If you did nothing to stop it you are also to blame.
    File assault charges!!!
  7. by   GooeyRN
    I don't know if your state is a right to work state, but admin. can always gently remind you that it is a right to work state, remind you that you do not have a contract, and remind you there may be some staff cut backs soon, and remind you that your hospital is non union.

    I am not saying this is how things should be done, by no means. But some employers are like that. It is very unfair. Basically, if you press charges, you are out of a job. You need to decide for yourself if you should continue working here.

    I worked with a nurse who sustained a serious ankle injury from a pt. (adolescent unit) Of course she had to see the doctor the hospital wanted her to see. He said its a minor injury and sent her for pt. You have to wait 3 months before you are allowed to see your own doc. She waited the 3 months, and found out her ankle was broken in several places and had to have extensive surgery. She was out of work for 6 months, and still had a lot of problems with her ankle. No charges were pressed against that pt for fear of loosing her job. A mental health tech has a large scar on his face and leg from being bitten. No charges were pressed.

    Its easy to say, stand up for yourself, all nurses need to stand together and correct this problem they can't fire everyone who presses charges... The next employer will understand why you were fired and give you a chance. But there are a lot of nurses that have 20-30 years invested into a hospital, with lots of vacation/personal time saved up and are at the top of the payscale and do not wish to risk having to start over at 50-60 years old, so I don't think things will change anytime soon. (How is that for a run-on sentence?)
  8. by   Medic/Nurse
    Although I understand that management is in the business of business this is a bad decision.

    Why would they discourage you (employee) from filing criminal charges?
    Do HCF exempt occupants from the rules of society?

    I can understand that nobody wants bad PR, etc... but this patient hurt several people in a deliberate manner. (2 of these in you original post were OTHER PATIENTS!) The other patients that got hurt were dependent on you/the facility to keep them safe and now ... now, they are victims, too. Did they (hospital) object to them filing charges on the assaultive patient. (Any 1st year lawyer could have a field day with that one!)

    My standard:
    Work reasonably with management. Respect the resolutions that can be achieved in-house. But, to go along to get along can get out of hand. People (patients) that have the capacity to understand consequence under the law and then proceed to assault, threaten, stalk, batter, steal, etc. should be held criminally accountable. If they have a history with the facility of this behavior and it goes "unpunished" at what point will it escalate.
    :uhoh21:*Oh, they just kicked me and spit at me and threatened to "get me", well, I never thought they'd really come back with a gun."*:uhoh21:
    There have been HCP killed by those "harmless" patients.

    What would happen if one of these "injured" patients filed an issue with the state board that you failed to keep him/her safe. Could you defend it? I'd think that you'd have a better defense with a criminal complaint against the aggressor. Could it be held that the facility could not be accountable in a situation like this? You bet. After all, is they a policy when to call local law enforcement? Is there a policy that covers workplace violence.

    Protect yourself (person, health, safety, license)
    Protect your patients.
    Let the criminals go to jail.
  9. by   subee
    [QUOTE=DusktilDawn]It could be about money and it could also be about negative publicity, especially since this incident involves a minor. I also think too many in upper management consider abusive behavior to be part of the job.[/QU

    Do your research and find a facility with a humane policy re: violence. Will your nurses stick together to insist that it be adopted? It would be an ugly story for the newspapers if hospital refused to follow the law to protect their pocketbooks and manipulate their staff.
  10. by   rn/writer
    The psych facility I worked at would not have stood in the way of filing assault charges. In fact, patients (or parents) even had to sign a form taking responsibilty for extreme property damage. The hospital didn't charge for every little thing and it did have a responsibility to monitor patients so that they didn't have too many opportunities to cause damage. But the idea was put in place that behavioral psych issues do not routinely exempt patients from having to deal with the consequences of their actions. In fact, many of the kids we dealt with were in our facility because they had spent a lifetime being shielded from consequences to the extreme. Ditto for adults.

    I know of only one case where a co-worker filed assault charges. An aggressive adolescent kicked a pregnant psych tech in the stomach. Fortunately, neither the tech nor her baby was harmed, and she was moved to a different position for the duration of her pregnancy. Still, the kid was charged. I don't think I ever heard the final outcome--stuff like this can take months or even years to resolve--I just remember being glad that it was being pursued at all.

    Patients who attack people outside an institution would certainly be eligible for assault charges. (IMO, the only exception, in or out of a hospital setting, where a patient may not be liable in the traditional sense is someone who is in a psychotic state.)

    Since psych hospitals are in the business of helping patients to learn healthy boundaries, they should jolly well start with protecting their employess and holding patients at least somewhat accountable for their choices and actions.
  11. by   traumaRUs
    In IL as many other states, it is a felony to assault a healthcare worker. In our ER we press charges against the drunk, high and mentally ill unless they are not able to understand their actions (ie mentally retarded with extremely low IQ or pts with documented dementia).
  12. by   beautifulb
    Of course the hospital will discourage staff from pressing charges against a patient. They have a rep. to protect.

    (This is sarcastic of course!)
  13. by   Rnandsoccermom
    In the state of Illinois it is a Class III FELONY to assault a health care worker. Check your state regulations!
  14. by   vaughanmk
    I work in a childrens ED. A few months ago a pt sitting in the waiting room jumped the triage/security desk and assulted a security guard and a nurse. Both were sent to be checked out by a physician, given workmans comp time and handed the papers to file a police report. The police actually came to the hospital within 10 min so each could file a statement. Both people hurt filed charges upon this minor, with support of the hospital and management. At the next staff meeting the problem was address by the CEO of the hospital and approval was given to put up plexi glass in our triage area. Not that this has been done yet though.