The Disrespect Of Nurses - page 3

by TheCommuter Asst. Admin

23,166 Views | 81 Comments

I was at my workplace earlier this month when my supervisor told me about a volatile situation that was unfolding on a different floor between another nurse and a verbally abusive family member. This particular family member was... Read More


  1. 3
    Historically, hospitals have covered up the fact of nurses being injured on the job by stating that we, the nurse, are responsible for the patients lack of control. That we reacted poorly to their escalating demeanor. I have seen some appalling behavior on the behalf of the hospitals for their poor handling of assault on nurses from patients. I know of a nurse that was suspended and ultimately fired, for breaking policy and procedure, after being bitten by a patient.

    When I say bitten this jack_, I mean jerk, I am moron, I mean ingrate, I mean distressed patient .........bit a chunk out of this nurses arm and spit it on the floor. She was told she agitated the situation, she was told she provoked the patient, she was told it was her fault for agitating the patient further and there were alternative means to subdue the patient. This patient had already during the course of his ED stay had punched several staff members, thrown a chair through the triage glass, had the police called and had been restrained multiple times and as according to ploicy had the restraints removed ASAP...... This was one of the professional criminals of the ED who had been in and knows the system well.....and was awaiting placement in a psych facility when there were no beds.

    I have mentioned Charlene Richardson a nurse who was a victim of workplace violence and maltreatment by the facility who is now an advocate against violence multiple times as a perfect example of the violence against nurses. This patient grabbed her crotch with enough force he tore her under garments......he was arrested. The systematic abuse that this nurse subsequently suffered should make those involved hang their heads in shame. It's quite the story........
    Since the story of my March 2003 indecent assault was published in The Salem News, I have been overwhelmed by the public response and the questions I have been asked in regards to this incident. Most people are quick to say they are impressed with the article, yet wondered after reading it how this incident has impacted me and affected my life both personally and professionally.

    Since then, I have taken extensive time to think about how to even begin to answer these complex and difficult questions. Most times I find myself unable to find the words to describe the turmoil this incident has caused in my life and the impact it has had on me. In searching for the right words, I have been told by my closest friends and support systems to "search my soul" and the words will follow. While trying to follow this advice I came to the realization that an incident of this magnitude is more traumatizing than any words could ever express. I have also come to the realization that such an experience can rob you of your soul.

    I became a nurse to help people and working as an ED nurse was always a dream for me. For nearly 12 years I functioned in this role and although ED nursing is a stressful career, I welcomed each new day and enjoyed the challenge that came with the profession. As ED nurses we must be skilled and ready for anything to happen in a moment's notice.

    Job includes violent patients


    Unfortunately our job includes taking care of violent patients; those who sometimes assault. There are people who present to the ED for legitimate help with their illnesses and I have always felt more than up to the task in those circumstances. However, many people present to the ED with the primary intention to be disruptive and maybe even violent to the ED staff and other patients or visitors. With this in mind, nurses are often put in a situation of being on the "front line" without the adequate support and resources to keep us safe.


    My incident has been completely life altering. I no longer work in the ED, something that was always my dream and that I dearly loved. And it has left my husband married to a completely different person, one who he describes as "not being a whole person anymore." This is emotionally distressing because I know he is right. I have feelings about this incident that I am unable to convey, even to him. How do you tell the most important person in your life that you feel destroyed by one 90-second violent incident? It is especially hard since he works in law enforcement and prides himself on putting such criminals away where they belong. I guess the bottom line is that admitting to my peers how deeply this episode hurt me—more deeply than I ever thought I could hurt—was more than I could bear. Perhaps admitting this to my peers was so hard because I was their leader for so long. However, even leaders bleed when cut.

    Since this incident I have to kick-start myself daily where previously I was a generally happy and energetic person. I fight every day to find the "pre-incident me" as I continue in my multiple roles as nurse, wife, mother, daughter, grandmother, and friend. It is grueling to rise each day and look in the mirror only to see myself as someone's victim. Friendships become altered due to lack of understanding of a normal post-traumatic response. An incident like this is haunting and causes sleepless nights, restlessness, and generalized feelings of insecurity in all aspects of life. Life stays disrupted long after the bruises are gone …and the scars last forever. There is no longer any sense or feeling of security or safety.
    the article continues
    http://www.massnurses.org/health-and.../openItem/1629
    No support or counseling
    I would love to say my employer was one who took this issue seriously and the necessary steps to provide me with the professional support and compassionate care that victims of such trauma deserve, but my employer didn't do that.

    Instead, just the opposite occurred. I was never provided support or counseling, and no one ever even said "we're sorry this happened to you." When I finally decided to share my story through activities sponsored by the MNA and in the media, I was made to feel intimidated by my employer and asked to sign a document pledging me to remain silent. I was made to feel as if I had done something wrong and that I was making things worse by trying to protect myself and other nurses in my department.
    http://www.massnurses.org/health-and.../openItem/1629

    I was once attacked and slammed into a wall by a Commercial Airline pilot who felt his daughter wasn't seen quickly enough (3month old had a 100.1 rectal temp after immunizations).....luckily he spent the noght in jail.
    anotherone, wooh, and opossum like this.
  2. 0
    Quote from hherrn
    While it may be appropriate to involve management with rude, nasty people, this is not the case if you are threatened.

    If you are threatened, call security. If they are unable to deal with it, call the police.
    I totally agree. I think we should nip it ourselves, and call security or if it is that severe, police. Nurses must protect themselves first and foremost if we want respect.
  3. 0
    If I were in that situation, I would have called security immediately. Shame on the higher ups for allowing that behavior.

    And I agree, I think it's all about the satisfaction scores.
  4. 0
    The times that we have involved security for psychotic pts they invariably only speak to the patient , (like that's gonna help )but do little more. Meanwhile the nurses are left carrying a biting,kicking,spiting pt whose goal is to claw at least one person's eye out. Yes, thanks security it just fills me with peace knowing you dutifully rush to the scene to WATCH it unfold!
    But......
    On a good day (We have so many ). OK on a rare good day.....I can distance myself, recognize that people "act out " only because they feel afraid. The less control they feel the more they will attempt to control by pushing back. My philosophy, yield. I don't mean yielding from a place of weakness. Yielding because I have learned that this person/ situation in front of me does not merit me carrying them on my back emotionally for the rest of the shift or home in the car with me or to sit in my living room to "let them out " on my family.
    So what does this raging,arm flapping pt want? I have learned it is never "the problem " as its appears but rather the pt outcry -To be heard.To feel in control.To not longer feel afraid. So,in those better moments, that's where I go straight to the real problems. Remember Erickson? Trust vs mistrust, infantile behavior well it lives loud in hospitals. They regress and their families right on with them at the first sight of what they are perceiving a threat.
    So do we want to be "right " or to solve the problem. Sometimes,that can feel like a tough call. It's about digging inside to find that better part. I'd say consider it's your child behaving badly so you can regain control ( In my case that wouldn't work as I have a teenage son who only escapes being drowned by me in the bathtub simply because he's just too big to get him in there!! ) ok, back to professional self....Keep it simple. The patient is scared. Respond to THAT not the behavior. The moment it becomes a power struggle you have already lost.
    So for me,in situation like this I soften. If I am not going to remember this incident when I am sitting in my diapers in the nursing home it really isn't worth it . So with that beautiful future in diapers it seem to show me the future and present, Just let go!
    If this doesn't work for you....May I suggest taking the pt to what I like to call the "cliff face " to the very edge of the abyss. You do this by saying "Aren't you just making a fuss over nothing", " Mr. X Please learn to be calm " " Mr. X. we both know You are not making much sense.Do you need a little time out" Then sit back and watch the fireworks!A full blown 4th of July. OK....Ok , I haven't done it but in those nights in the car where I am carrying one of those pt home with me on my back I like to dream . To dream it in full pantomime, where I give the pt a Ralph Kramden punch "Bang ,zoom To the moon Alice! to the moon! "
  5. 4
    I do not allow anyone to threaten, scream at, or intimidate my staff. They have all been told to calmly walk away or tell the other person that they will not be spoken to in that manner.We don't have security, but the staff know they can an should call 911 if they feel threatened.Work is stressful enough and we are busy enough without having to deal with bullies.
    cp1024, noyesno, InfirmiereJolie, and 1 other like this.
  6. 3
    I found the following on CNN:

    Nurses describe alleged assault by Kennedy son - CNN.com

    ...
    It was the second day of Kennedy's criminal trial on misdemeanor charges of harassment and child endangerment resulting from what happened in January at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, about 40 miles north of New York City.


    One of the nurses, Cari Luciano, said that as Kennedy tried to get past the nurses and into the stairwell, his infant's head was being jostled, unsupported, in his arms. She testified that she instinctively reached out to steady it when Kennedy kicked her squarely in the pelvis.
    Nurse Marian Williams said she saw Kennedy kick Luciano with "such force" that it knocked her off her feet.
    The third nurse, Anna Lane, testified Kennedy twisted her arm off the stairwell door as he tried to leave.
    ...

    Such a gentleman. He needs to spend some "quiet time" locked up in a cell with his new friend Bubba.
    cp1024, wooh, and InfirmiereJolie like this.
  7. 4
    I work in palliative care, so we have a lot of families who aren't coping well and blame the nurses and other staff for their loved ones illness. I had one particular situation where one family member was yelling at me at 6 am at the nursing station because I went into their room to give routine pain medication and it woke him up. It was waking up other patients and family members and I was not able to control the situation, so the charge nurse came and talked to him, completely defending me and explained to him that even though in our unit family is welcome 24/7, it is NOT a place to expect a good nights sleep and why it was necessary for me to be in the room. I also had other patients family members ask me later on if I was okay, and say that they wanted to step in but didn't feel like it was their place, because they could hear the whole thing from their own rooms. It was very nice to have the charge nurse take my side and I think that it really turned into a more positive experience regarding confrontation with family members!
    Soliloquy, Hygiene Queen, cp1024, and 1 other like this.
  8. 2
    Quote from TheCommuter
    I was at my workplace earlier this month when my supervisor told me about a volatile situation that was unfolding on a different floor between another nurse and a verbally abusive family member. This particular family member was at the bedside for twelve hours straight and refused to leave when gently prompted. She was confrontational, hollering, taking pictures with her cellular phone, and interfering with procedures that needed to be performed on the patient. Nothing seemed to please her.

    And guess what? The verbally abusive family member was coddled by management and allowed to stay well beyond the visiting hours that other visitors are expected to follow. I suppose the old saying applies in this situation: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Too many members of the public know that they can act like loudmouthed fools, behave disrespectfully toward nursing staff, and basically get away with it.
    *** Let me guess, a Magnet hospital? That family memeber would not have been tolerated in my hospital. I wouldn't work for a hospital with so little reguard for it's staff.

    Quote from TheCommuter
    I clearly recall another instance of blatant disrespect at the same workplace. A group of surly family members were yelling obscenities and threats at the floor nurse and supervisor after being informed that the patient contracted a urinary tract infection: “You haven’t seen crazy until you’ve seen me!” “I will put my foot up your ass!” “You’d better get my mother out of this place before I get you out of the way!” To keep a long story short, the patient was sent to another hospital to receive the same intravenous antibiotics that my workplace had been providing.
    *** Wow so that hospital has a tract record of throwing it's staff under a bus. I would be out of there.
    Last edit by TheCommuter on Oct 27, '12 : Reason: quotation tags
    DizzyLizzyNurse and anotherone like this.
  9. 5
    Why is it when you go to workplace all the rights that you are entitled for yourself as a citizen, as a human being are denied? Shoot, I'm not about to have anyone threaten me. I will call security or the cops because if there is no one going to stick up for me, I need to do it myself. They need to quit making places of employment like abusive relationships!
    Soliloquy, anotherone, noyesno, and 2 others like this.
  10. 4
    Quote from caregiver1977
    What if someone is physically abusing a nurse and in the process someone else gets hurt as well?
    Blame the nurse! I've always been told by managers that everything will be fine if the nurses would just use better therapeutic communication.


Top