How can we protect the nurses?


Does anyone know of any laws that are in place to protect nurses from the threat of violence? How would I go about finding any info on a hospital's responsibility to ensure a safe working environment for employees?

I work in a rural hospital that has only part time security (security guard does not start his shift until 8 pm on weekends) the hospital is never locked down on weekends. Word is out in community that Diluadid is given freely and we are seeing an influx of drug seekers and unruly visitors. This is being perceived as a threat to the employees of the hospital but risk management and admin. literally laughs at us if we bring it up. (no Kidding laughs!!)

This past weekend we had two was a lab tech that was threatened by another employee's intoxicated husband that he was going to shoot him. Admin knows and would not allow the threatened lab tech to leave. Made him sleep in a bed on our med surg floor. (how safe is that.....come in to blow the lab tech away and take out all the nurses and some patients while you are at it...Duh)

Second an intoxicated and drugged up visitor wondering all over the hospital even in areas that are not open, had to be restrained by nursing supervisor (who is female and 5'3") from entering patient's room. Luckily he did not become violent because we had no security guards on duty. Just us nurses. He was estranged BF of patient with hx of violent behavior.

This is just two of many incidents that are taking place....only by the Grace of God has no one been hurt yet but we nurses all know that day is coming.

So I don't know where to turn to have something done to keep us all safe. No one should have to work in conditions in which their physical safety could be threatened.

Please help...


691 Posts

Specializes in Clinical Risk Management.

I think it's time to consult an attorney about workplace violence. It is also time to try to find a safer position, if at all possible.

If risk management won't assist, perhaps your area news outlet will?


34 Posts

My husband suggested contacting the local news to have a reporter come in a do like an expose. He said that would be sure to get the attention of admin.

Of course, if word gets out that I blew the whistle my job would be tanked. I am the sole support of my family and while I am pretty sure I could find another job I would lose my retirement benefits that I have acquired. I have been at his facility for over 12 years and have the shift that I want.


34 Posts

How does the hospital where you work handle security issues? Is the certain areas of the hospital locked down at off hours? Do you have security 24/7?

Has 10 years experience.

I feel for you. Many of us in urban areas have an idea that if this job doesn't work out we can run to one that will.

If you bring the issue up to management concentrate on the fact that patients could have been injured, not just yourselves and you're worried about them. The last thing they'll want is the problem that customers may be affected by this. They may sit up and listen more.

Oh, and edited to add, I work in a rehab facility, not a hospital and we only have security at night - in fact one of our security guards a few months ago was beaten up (unarmed security guard) About three years ago we had an armed robbery for narcotics which prompted them to get the night security, for the narc theft you understand, not the safety of staff or patients.

Flare, ASN, BSN

5 Articles; 4,431 Posts

Specializes in school nursing, ortho, trauma.

Security is pretty tight in general in the hospitals in my area. Particularly if there is a psych unit within the campus but also in general. Typically the front door gets loched once visiting hours cease and doesn't get opened until the next morning in time for early surgicals and labs. Anyone coming in during that time would have to come in via the ER door which usually has security posted. In general the security can do little more than escort someone away. Anything more would need to be dealt with by police.

In your case since you are hesitant to reach out to the media I would consider contacting an attorney on behalf of the employees (i am guessin you are not unionized) or even local law enforcement and explaining the situation -right down to your hesitancy to be abeled the whistle blower in this situation. If local police won't assist then take it to a higher level. Heck, involve the state or federal department of labor if you need to.

Specializes in Cardiac, ER. Has 18 years experience.

The hospital where I work has only 2 open entrances after 2000. Both have security at the door and everyone entering is recorded and given a visitors pass. We also have many armed security officers through out the hospital 24/7. I work in ER and we have one at the door and two that are stationed in the department. In my state, assaulting a health care worker is equivalent to assaulting a law enforcement officer. I hope you are involving the police when these things happen. Sounds scary to me. I think I'd be finding a new job!


439 Posts

Specializes in ED. Has 7 years experience.

We are fortunate to have a good security department. We have additional measures, such as a locked ED with security code doors or ID swipe panels for entry. Our psych ED is a completely locked unit. We also have a police officer at night on the weekends. You should address the security issues with the administration.


34 Posts

Thanks for the replies....I talked with my nurse manager today. She took some notes and said she will bring it up at the next admin meeting. I asked her to keep me updated but I am not going to really hold my breath on that on.

My nurse manager said that we should have called the police but I also told her that house supervisor are told not to call the police until situations gets so out of control that it can't be handled because it will look bad for the hospital.

I also remember an incident where one of the nurses on my floor got shoved and threatened by a visitor. The nurse wanted to file a police report for assault but this same nurse manager would not let her.

Here's the thing.....visiting hours have never been enforced in our hospital. Now admin is doing this big push with signs in the rooms and wanting the nurses to enforce the visiting policy. How many angry people do you think we are going to be dealing with now and sometimes it will be with no security back up.

I am going to see if anything transpires from the admin meeting and if not I will have to check into other actions.

Specializes in ED, ICU, Heme/Onc.

You are not a law enforcement officer. If you feel unsafe, just like you would at the supermarket or walking down the street, call. They can't fire you for calling the police when you and your patients are at risk. If it "looks bad", then they need to address it now, not at the "next meeting". This is just plain stupid from a risk management perspective. Employee safety aside, patient safety is non-existent since we are not trained security or law enforcement personnel. Admin will perk up really quickly when a call to your local sheriff's office results in an arrest or two.


295 Posts

Call the cops, press charges, do whatever you need to do to keep your self safe. Someone shows up with a gun..give em whatever they want! Give em an injection if it will keep you safe!!! I could be wrong but I think it is against the law to retaliate against whistle blowers. You could contact the media and ask to remain annonymous (sp) also. Be safe!

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