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I would appreciate any advice you might have about this particular situation. On a clinical floor recently, a student's hand was slapped by a staff nurse. It was not done with such force as to cause significant pain or injury. This was definitely a hostile and aggressive act. The student was doing nothing wrong; nothing that warranted such behavior. (There were no patient safety issues involved.)

#1--Does this constitute a "battery?"

#2--What are the potential liability issues for our school? Does this act by the staff nurse violate any federal statutes?

We have had LOTS of trouble with this particular floor at this facility before (horizontal violence to such a degree that I refused to go back there with my clinical groups). But this is the first time a physical act has been involved.

Thank you for any helpful links or advice you can offer me.

I believe it consitutues both assault and battery, but the student would have to get legal advice if he/she wants to pursue the issue. Meanwhile, as the instructor you can certainly send a letter to executive management at that facility and put them on notice that this type behavior will not be tolerated. They may be looking for some documentation such as this to get rid of a bad egg. At the very least I would demand a written apology by the nurse in question to the student. So sorry this happened. It does not make a good impression on future nurses, but at least you have an education opportunity to teach them how NOT to act.


437 Posts

Working in a hospital where we have numerous students, I am grossly appalled by the actions of that nurse!!! Even if a safety issue were involved, there are other ways to deal with things bsided resorting to childish, vengefull acts!! I agree, the student needs an attorney if they want to pursue things -- as faculty of your school, I would write a letter to the administration of the facility and have your dean of nursing and possibly even the college president send letters as well. That behavior is SO out of line!!! Debriefing the student is a necessity -- how do they feel about this? Were others present? They should probably be aware that the school is doing something ( no need to be specific with them -- but they should know that it wasn't just swept under the rug).

Trauma Columnist

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

97 Articles; 21,237 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

I'm an old lady RN and I wouldn't tolerate it - either as someone who witnessed the act or someone who got their hand literally slapped. This can't be tolerated! I would let the student know what was going on because I think they have a right to know and also have an understanding of confidentiality. I also would be sending some letters to the nurse recruiters, nurse exec as well as the unit manager. It sounds like that unit needs some anger management lessons!

Tweety, BSN, RN

33,525 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

I haven't got my hand slapped since first grade (and I understand teachers can't do that anymore), but between adults in a "learning" environment it shouldn't be tolerated.

Can't help you with legalities, but I would definately make a stink about it.

jnette, ASN, EMT-I

4,388 Posts

Specializes in Hemodialysis, Home Health.

Wow. How ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude. :stone

Wonder if she slaps her patients' hands, too, if they reach for something or fail to follow her instructions... :uhoh3:




104 Articles; 5,349 Posts

Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds.

Thank you all for your words of wisdom and advice. Our relationship with this facility has been very rocky at best and I am concerned for the welfare of our students (especially since this latest battery incident). We report abusive situations to the administration at this hospital, and they act concerned, but the climate of horizontal violence continues. Things keep getting swept under the rug. I honestly have lost faith in their ability to control their nurses. Although it is not my decision to make, I am all for withdrawing from this facility and finding other more professional clinical sites.

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