How would you deal with an abusive patient?

  1. 0
    Hi All,

    I'm a pre-nursing student,with about a year to worry about my decision before i start classes. I've seen many of you say you wouldn't recommend nursing for many reasons,but I think what scares me most is verbal abuse from the people you're trying to take care of. It hasn't changed my mind about getting in to the field yet, but does anybody have any examples of what people said? (assuming its not too much of a sensitive subject) and how you dealt with it,or wish you'd dealt with it. I guess I'm just trying to get an idea of what I'm up against.. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks and take care.
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  3. 4 Comments so far...

  4. 0
    Anything nasty that you can think of can and will be said to you at a hospital. I have been called everything from a "f***ing b***h who is abusive and trying to kill [them]," (them being that particular patient) to a "fat slob who no one loves (at 5'8'' and a whopping 130 pounds)," and just about everything in between. I can say that a very high percentage of the patients that are verbally abusive to me are either suffering from a poor reaction to a substance that they have either received at home or at the hospital or have some sort of mentally debilitating or mood altering condition. The ones who are having reactions to medications come out of it when their system clears the medication and then they are generally very nice and more times than not apologetic. Patients with dementia, Alzheimer's, and other afflictions that can affect behavior, are often redirectable. I personally find verbal abuse from these patients rather easy to ignore.

    Physical abuse is much more difficult to deal with for me. I worked with a completely lucid patient with two broken legs who punched and broke the jaw of one of our nurses. She was standing by his bed trying to convince him to wait for her to get help before he tried to climb over the edge of his bed to get out (this patient had already hurt himself falling while trying to get out of bed unassisted once before) and since she would not get out of his way he hit her. When I came in with the assignment of trying to prevent him from falling out of bed he told me that if I came with in reach he would " knock my f***ing head off." Of course outside of his room is a sign saying "Please protect our patient. Fall Risk." In my opinion we should have been protected from him, not the other way around. These actively violent patients are the ones that really make me just want to leave the hospital, but for me personally, the greatful patients always more than make up for the bad ones.
    Last edit by Skippitb on May 21, '06
  5. 0
    Quote from fifi2323
    Hi All,

    I'm a pre-nursing student,with about a year to worry about my decision before i start classes. I've seen many of you say you wouldn't recommend nursing for many reasons,but I think what scares me most is verbal abuse from the people you're trying to take care of. It hasn't changed my mind about getting in to the field yet, but does anybody have any examples of what people said? (assuming its not too much of a sensitive subject) and how you dealt with it,or wish you'd dealt with it. I guess I'm just trying to get an idea of what I'm up against.. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks and take care.
    Every curse word I've ever known and some that were new to me has been screamed in my direction since I've started nursing.
    My job and license and LIFE has been threatened.
    I had someone threaten to rape me.
    I've had objects thrown at me.
    I've been choked.

    Strange to say...I still love nursing. Sometimes it makes me wonder about my own sanity:chuckle
    Last edit by elthia on May 21, '06
  6. 0
    Thanks so much for your input! I guess thats pretty much what I expected,but oddly enough,as much of a nervous wreck as I am about the prospect of nursing school,the things you guys said dont really change my mind..so I guess I can relate when it comes to questioning my sanity..lol.
  7. 1
    This is not something that you should focus on. It occurs in service related careers. That includes waiters and waitresses, flight attendants, maids, store clerks, etc. I did a paper on staff abuse when I was doing my BSN. Without a doubt the largest percentage of nurses that sustain abuse are those who work with psychiatric patients and that is where most of the research on this has focused. The nurse's response to it is also an important factor since the wrong response can cause the patient to escalate their anger. Nearly all of my experiences with patients have been very nice. In general, if you are respectful, you will be treated with respect in kind. If you are argumentative, confrontational and controlling then you are destined for problems getting along with others. This was also something that we discussed in nursing school, so we were not sent out into the nursing world unprepared for working with difficult people. My nursing program required us to take a class in communication skills, something you might want to consider as an elective if it is offered at the college you will be attending. In this class we were taught the basics of assertiveness as well as how to deal with difficult people and handle situations where people were upset or upsetting us.
    mitral likes this.


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