Do You Recognize Abusive Behavior in Your Unit?

Abuse, neglect or exploitation of a patient or resident of a care facility is a crime. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

Do You Recognize Abusive Behavior in Your Unit?

I am sure all reading are thinking that they would never tolerate any such behavior. But do you?

Think of the unconscious post op that comes in with bizarre tattoos or piercings. Remember that head patient screaming, fighting, spitting and punching their way out of the semi-coma state.

How about the new spinal injury with Priapus?

The trauma that comes into the ER with a limb sitting next to them.

Now think of the nurse who was pointing out and commented on those tattoos in a nasty way. Who yelled back at that head pt or slapped his bottom to ease him pulling during a turn.

Did someone snarl back at that pt or squeezed a limb hard to gain attention or the upper hand?

Did someone lift the sheets and expose the patient whose constant erection they thought funny enough to show all?

Do you remember that attempted suicide? The one who lite himself on fire? Nurses talking freely about him, skin flying, fluids pumping, and thinking in his sedated state he could not hear? Or the self-inflicted stab pt, a medical person, and the discussion that was held in her presence?

Remember that trauma pt, fireman and rescue present, limbs being tossed back and forth. Such gaity in a room full of such loss. Now I know what one says. We were kidding. It was tension compensation. They could not hear us. Come on now, the rescue guys thought it was funny. Oh, you have no sense of humor!

Patient abuse and neglect come in many shapes, forms, and degrees. It is kicked aside, rationalized and overlooked by the majority. Professionals afraid to be different and speak up. Not wanting to cause a stir, lose a friend or provoke the click.

Yet we say we advocate for the patient and family. Who rights do we really protect by allowing some of the behavior we do?

Trauma ICU, ER, ACLS/BLS instructor

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Specializes in Management, Emergency, Psych, Med Surg.

I work on a 34 bed med surg unit and we are so lucky because we have a great, caring staff and our staffing ratios are wonderful. I hope that I would see signs of patient abuse, but I don't know. Once when I was director of a large inner city hospital ED I had a male employee accused of sexually assaulting a female patient in the exam room. We went to trial and he was found not guilty (although I knew he was). In later years after I left, he was accused again. I don't know if charges were filed but he was terminated.

I agree with you. We do see humor in some of the horrible things we see every day and I do think that we have to blow off steam from time to time. But it must be done in an appropriate place, where no one but the staff can here. And when you are out on the floor and taking care of the patient, you must be on your best behavior and demonstrate professional behavior at all times.