At our last Case Conference one of our nurses was describing a death visit she'd recently made during which family members began to fight...as in fist fight. She described trying to get them to stop, threatening to call the police, which she eventually did. I waited for our Team Manager to mention her right to physically remover herself from such a threatening situation but that didn't happen. She was commended for being brave, sticking it out and we moved on.
It's been bugging me since then. Our team is made up of relatively new hospice team members, most with less than a year's experience and I think we needed to explore this issue.
In my 10 years as a hospice nurse I have feared for my safety only twice. Both times nothing happened but I was in homes with bedbound patients being cared for by males and picked up on a sexual vibe. Both times I said I needed to to get something from my car and then left. When I called in and described my fears I was supported and not made to feel foolish or blamed for not "sticking it out".
I'm just wondering what other experiences some of you may have had and/or opinions on this matter. I do know that it's important to think about the possibility of danger to ourselves as we are usually lone females in a private home where emotions are running high.
Nov 19, '06
I haven't been in that situation but thinking about it I might have gone to my car and called the police. Nursing shouldn't have to be in a dangerous situation. I think hospital admissions are getting more dangerous to staff. ER staff have filed assault charges in some places.
Nov 21, '06
I've only been a hospice RN CM for 5 months, but our agency would have not supported the "sticking it out" mindset. We are told that if something doesn't feel right to go "with our gut" and they will support us. We had a patient that lived in a very dangerous area of town and the situation there wasn't safe inside the home either......only essential personnel were allowed to go there, only in pairs, and only early in the morning when hopefully the "offenders" were asleep..... It makes a difference knowing that you're supported.
Nov 22, '06
Our agency is in complete agreement with the "going with your gut" action. After all, how many times have you ever heard anyone say, "I wish I hadn't gone with my gut instincts?" Always be aware of your surroundings and go in pairs if you feel at all threatend. We are lucky to have a team to call upon. We also leave messages for one another if we have a immenently dying patient in an area unsafe at night so the on-call RN is aware and can call the police for escort or in extreme cases the coroner themself to go prounounce. A few years ago we had a patient who lived in very unsafe circumstances, we made sure he was comfortable, but when he died, we called the coroner, who has better access to law enforcement, to assist. The coroner went out with the police and cleared the house!!!
Amazing. But you must take care of yourself first and be safe.
Have a blessed holiday!
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