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Being a Nurse for a Killer

Posted

Hi All-

I'm sure most of you have seen the news and footage from the Ft. Hood shooting. I guess when I saw this, I could not imagine having to take care of that shooter :eek:.

Have any of you ever had to take care of someone like this? How do you deal with something like this ethically? I have never had to deal with anything like this, but could not imagine doing so. I have close ties to the military and this story breaks my heart :cry:.

I was just wondering if anyone on here had to deal with something like taking care of a killer or such. And, can you (legally) refuse to give care to someone in an instance such as this? Or would you think that they would just find another nurse to provide appropriate care if you were so opposed to it?

Just thought it would be an interesting question to look into!

Thanks!

~JJ

jessiern, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg.

Nothing to that level, but our state's max sec. prision is in our city, so we see many of their "residents". Some are in with some pretty henious crimes, although we are not supposed to know what they are in prision for.

I think the worst was a patient involved in a high profile bombing (many years ago), and the someone in the prision system leaked to the press that he was admitted to our ICU. Some of those affected by his crime were calling making death threats to the nurses.

Basically, for me care has to provided in a very mechinical method. I preform the skills I was trained to, and I don't let my emotions play into it. Difficult to do at first, but you learn. I choose to comminicate mostly with the gaurds, as I feel "safer" that way-I like to have them as a buffer.

I'm not sure of the legalities of refusing the patient, but the way i see it, someone has to do it, and it wouldn't be fair for my co-workers if I were not willing to do my fair share. I was told during hiring from time to time we provided care for the prision, and I choose to accept the job, thus I choose to accept the patients with it.

diawc

Specializes in OB, ER, ICU, Supervision, SANE. Has 15 years experience.

I work in a psychiatric hospital, and we often have criminals who "hide out" here thinking they can avoid prosecution for a while. It is difficult to care for someone who has committed a heinous crime, yet it is an expectation. No the nurses here cannot refuse. While difficult, they are still human beings, and who knows what drove them to this desperate act? We try and look at them as human beings who need our help. After all, your "normal" patients have probably done things you would cringe at as well.

The newest NCLEX reviews (I'm about to graduate next semester) tell us that you can't refuse care to anybody. I don't know if that's a state regulation, or federal, but as far as I know, you need to look at that person (idiot) as any other patient. I don't know what I'll do if ever faced with your same situation, hopefully act like Jessie and just do what I've been trained to do...Sorry for your situation!

My college roommate has been an RN in a prison for more than a decade. I imagine he's provided care for his share of killers.

diane227, LPN, RN

Specializes in Management, Emergency, Psych, Med Surg. Has 32 years experience.

I have had to take care of many patients who committed crimes when I worked in a large inner city ED. Rapists, murders, etc. I always reminded myself that I was there to do a job and that I was not the judge or the jury and it was not my job to judge this person. So I just tried to be professional, do my job and not get involved in matters related to what ever crime they were charged with.

angel337, MSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency Room.

i have taken care of patients that were registered sex offenders, murderers etc.., the police are standing there with the pt the entire time and i just do my job and treat them like anyone else. the only difference is there isn't much conversation. alot of close ended questions and explaining of procedures to be done.

While deployed to Iraq we took care of a lot of "bad guys" They'd get pretty worked up from time to time, but usually they were more scared of us than we were of them. We would do our best to save their lives so that potentially they could provide us with information that would help our efforts. I've been spit at, hit, kicked, but I can't imagine it's any different than taking care of a "good guy" with dimentia or a head injury. I do not know that doc from Ft. Hood, but I can't help feeling that what he did is going to have a huge impact on the way the rest of the Army looks at their medical personnel. It's truly sad

canoehead, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 30 years experience.

If you have to care for a prisoner, no matter what the crime you have to assume there is a real person in there somewhere. But don't coddle them- they will see compassion as a weakness. Treat them with the same respect you would give a stranger on the street, assuming you will never see the "real" person inside. Even if they try to confide in you, it is more likely a ploy than honest emotion, especially if you've only know them for a short time.

I would be up front about your feelings if you are uncomfortable, (rather than doing their care without speaking or eye contact). "I'm pretty uncomfortable about why you are in custody, but I want to make sure you heal and feel better quickly." Then just do the best job you can. Ask the guards if there is anything you need to know to stay safe, and do exactly as they say.

EmergencyNrse

Specializes in Emergency Medicine. Has 17 years experience.

Hi All-

Have any of you ever had to take care of someone like this? How do you deal with something like this ethically? I have never had to deal with anything like this, but could not imagine doing so...

I was just wondering if anyone on here had to deal with something like taking care of a killer or such. And, can you (legally) refuse to give care to someone in an instance such as this?

What is this...High School?

Who made you judge & jury? What does anything surrounding anyone's situation detract from the job at hand? Airway, breathing circulation, bleeding, disability...

Do your job! The idea that your level of care would vary because of your own personal opinion is ridiculous. You're suppose to be a professional. Act like it.

Good Grief.

nurseby07

Specializes in oncology, trauma, home health.

What is this...High School?

Who made you judge & jury? What does anything surrounding anyone's situation detract from the job at hand? Airway, breathing circulation, bleeding, disability...

Do your job! The idea that your level of care would vary because of your own personal opinion is ridiculous. You're suppose to be a professional. Act like it.

Good Grief.

Sounds like you're the judge and jury now. It was just an honest question, no need to berate.

Otessa, BSN, RN

Has 19 years experience.

Hi All-

I'm sure most of you have seen the news and footage from the Ft. Hood shooting. I guess when I saw this, I could not imagine having to take care of that shooter :eek:.

Have any of you ever had to take care of someone like this? How do you deal with something like this ethically? I have never had to deal with anything like this, but could not imagine doing so. I have close ties to the military and this story breaks my heart :cry:.

I was just wondering if anyone on here had to deal with something like taking care of a killer or such. And, can you (legally) refuse to give care to someone in an instance such as this? Or would you think that they would just find another nurse to provide appropriate care if you were so opposed to it?

Just thought it would be an interesting question to look into!

Thanks!

~JJ

Worked in an ICU and have to take care of the drunk driver one day and the surviving family members down the hall the next.

Also have taken care of many prisoners with one-two or three guards that are shackled to the bed. Some, that you know what they have done because they were in the news and some I had no idea and did NOT want to know.

Treat them with respect and maintain health but really nothing more-none of the "niceties" that you normally provide.

Usually keep in my head that I want them alive and healthy so they can stand trial or serve their sentence.

It is tough though.

otessa

Otessa, BSN, RN

Has 19 years experience.

What is this...High School?

Who made you judge & jury? What does anything surrounding anyone's situation detract from the job at hand? Airway, breathing circulation, bleeding, disability...

Do your job! The idea that your level of care would vary because of your own personal opinion is ridiculous. You're suppose to be a professional. Act like it.

Good Grief.

Unless you have had to care for a notorious murderer-that was convicted and on death row-then you really can't know how it feels to take care of someone truly evil.

otessa

annaedRN, RN

Specializes in LTC/hospital, home health (VNA). Has 10 years experience.

What is this...High School?

Who made you judge & jury? What does anything surrounding anyone's situation detract from the job at hand? Airway, breathing circulation, bleeding, disability...

Do your job! The idea that your level of care would vary because of your own personal opinion is ridiculous. You're suppose to be a professional. Act like it.

Good Grief.

Would you feel the same way if your patient had raped and killed your mom? We are professionals, but we are also moms, dads, husbands, wives, grandchildren, grandparents, siblings.......

RNperdiem, RN

Has 14 years experience.

From a nursing standpoint, I find the older guys who have been in prison a long time to be easier patients than most. "yes, ma'am", "no ma'am" and a polite reminder to remove aluminum cans(not allowed for prisoners) from the lunch trays are as demanding as a lot of these guys get.

I don't go probing for why someone is in prison either.

Would you feel the same way if your patient had raped and killed your mom? We are professionals, but we are also moms, dads, husbands, wives, grandchildren, grandparents, siblings.......

You wouldn't be asked to take care of someone who committed a violent crime against someone close to you.

And no, you should not bring your personal feelings into it. For all you know, some little old guy you're taking care may have killed or raped someone in has past and never got caught.

And again, the soldier who went on the shooting spree will face his judge and jury. His healthcare team are not it. You don't know anything at this point about his state of mental health at the time. Even psychiatrists have psychotic breaks.

You are obligated to give a high standard of nursing care. You do not have to become their friend in doing so.

~Mi Vida Loca~RN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Emergency Dept. Trauma. Pediatrics. Has 6 years experience.

What is this...High School?

Who made you judge & jury? What does anything surrounding anyone's situation detract from the job at hand? Airway, breathing circulation, bleeding, disability...

Do your job! The idea that your level of care would vary because of your own personal opinion is ridiculous. You're suppose to be a professional. Act like it.

Good Grief.

This was completely uncalled for. The OP asked for opinions about dealing with a certain type of situation, they don't deserve to be ridiculed for asking a question, they didn't do anything wrong or unprofessional because as they said they have never even been in the situation. They don't need to be judge nor jury to know the facts are this person did kill and injure many people. FACT! People have real emotions and feelings, FACT! It's natural for someone to wonder what it might be like to be in this situation and how people typically respond to it. Maybe you should be professional and not ridicule your fellow nurses for asking a question you deam unworthy of asking!

To the OP, I have a personal experience to share that just happened last week as I was shadowing a nurse at the jail. I also had wonders like you that I went through before I went. I have a past history of being abused physically and sexually and I wondered how my reaction would be if I was in a situation with a child molester. I am generally the type of person that can't be rude or mean to someone if they are being nice or cordial to me. Even people that have screwed me over many time in the past, if they smile and say hi I will smile and say hi back. Now if someone is being rude or mean then I don't have a problem with being smug or rude. But I wondered if being around certain inmates would cause me the emotions regardless.

The Jail I shadowed out the nurses were allowed to know the crimes. I shadowed the nurse doing the high risk inmates. Lots of high violent inmates, inmates on lots of psych meds, child molesters and rapist and murders. (not many we don't have a lot of crime where I live).

The nurse had told me the various crimes people were in for when she was getting their meds ready to call them up to the cart. Unlike the high risk violent inmates that had meds passed through the food gap thing in the door, the child molesters although in solitaire for their protection were free to come up to the med cart on their own, this jail had open pod units. Anyway, I prepared myself to remain professional when it was time for the few inmates that were in for molestation to come up to the cart unsure how I would feel, when the man walked up to get his meds he was very courteous to the nurse and looked at me and smiled and said hello,(like a half smile, nothing smug, or overly happy, but just a courtious hello you might to with any stranger.) instinctively I smiled and said hello back. I was very surprised that even though I knew some of these people were what I would consider disgusting people that should not even be alive, when it came to their care and when they were acting civil, I was fine being in that situation and was able to seperate my feelings for their crimes, from my ability to provide care (or just being their watching in my case) to them. Now had they acted much different to me I might be posting something different, but that wasn't what happened. I would imagine it would be the same for a lot of people.

As horrifying as this crime was, this patient is a human, albeit of the Hannibal Lecter variety (psychiatrist? VERY creepy). If you work with the criminal psych population you have to be very detached from the circumstances that brought them to you. If you have a personal link, you must recuse yourself from the case. Otherwise, they come to you as a deeply disturbed individual with the same rights as every other patient, not someone who did something so reprehensible it affects your ability to do your job. If detachment proves impossible for a nurse, it's probably best to work in another area/specialty.