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Increasingly, nurses facing violence on the job


Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 44 years experience.

message getting out today's philadelphia inquirer that nurses will not stand for workplace violence.

[color=#005266]nurses face violence on the job

by jane m. von bergen

inquirer staff writer

...on wednesday, 180 nurses and other health-care workers will convene in a ballroom at the philadelphia airport hilton for a booked-to-capacity session on workplace violence for health-care workers, sponsored by the pennsylvania association of staff nurses and allied professionals, a union....

...why is the work so dangerous? nurses and experts point to a number of factors.

first is proximity. "we as nurses are hands on - to touch and be touched," said nurse christine pontus, occupational health and safety director for the massachusetts nurses association and one of the national leaders addressing the issue. "the boundaries are not as clear."

pressed to reduce expenses, hospitals have been cutting back on nursing and security staff at a time when the number of uninsured using emergency rooms is growing. those same budget constraints are limiting options for treatment and care of the mentally ill and addicted.

unemployment and the economy has exacerbated stress among the general population, with that tension manifesting itself in hospitals, where frustrated patients and their families waiting longer for treatment tend to lash out at staff members.

most of the violence is by patients or their families against nurses and other staff, according to the emergency nurses' survey.

many hospitals don't have complete safety plans that include adequate staffing, consistent and frequent use of security wands and metal detectors, training in violence de-escalation, safety committees with worker representation, emergency-drill sessions, and analysis of unsafe conditions.

meanwhile, there is some sense that nurses and others should accept violence as part of the job, pontus said. she is the lead speaker at wednesday's event. district attorneys from philadelphia and delaware county are scheduled to attend.

"a lot of times the victims are traumatized and afraid to speak," especially if the organizational culture doesn't support them, pontus said.

"there is a stigma of victimization, embarrassment, fear of being blamed for provoking the assault, fear of job loss," she said. "the patients abuse us and we abuse each other. we're all post-traumatic out there."...

read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20101110_increasingly__nurses_facing_violence_on_the_job.html#ixzz14tdduu35

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At least the comments to the article are sympathetic to nurses, unlike that article about the Staten Island woman who tried to take out a hit on 2 doctors and 2 nurses.

Here's the reporter's follow-up blog post, too:

A plan for nurse safety | Philly | 11/10/2010

We should have some type of outlet. such as excersising, writing , just something to vent. It is a very stressful and abused job. I tell you if I had to do it again , I would pick another career. This is really sad. Not to mention the pay is not all that for the stuff we do.


Specializes in Oncology&Homecare. Has 27 years experience.

At least this issue is in the news. Commitees are nice if they produce results. There is an increased risk in every venue. I have found fear in the hospital, the office and even homecare. We will never eliminate violence but we can greatly reduce it with effective policies and procedures. Awareness + action will produce results.

I posted this in response to another posting on violence-but word has got to get out. The JOINT COMMISSION recently released a report on escalating violence in hospitals and added: NURSES ARE TWICE AS LIKELY AS ANY OTHER OCCUPATION TO BE RAPED, ASSAULTED OR MURDERED AT WORK. Read that statement again! By the end of October, there had been THIRTY FOUR (34!) HOSPITAL SHOOTINGS IN THE LAST 30 MONTHS--in the US alone!! Very hard information to uncover, as you can imagine, hospitals really don't want that blasted all over the news--but yes, they are all true and accounted for. 34 in 30 months--nurses, more than doctors, are usually one of the intended targets, other times, the patients. Our hospital doesn't want increased security to avoid looking like a prison--well, considering our clientelle, it just might be in a few years. We have NO security--people walk right in the door, can access any floor, any room. When visiting hours are over, however, it's basically a lock-down--ok, so shooters can only come before the end of visiting hours or get the nurse in the parking lot. It's another demonstration of how little respect nurses receive, right down to the death. Keep an eye out for each other.


Specializes in Telemetry. Has 3 years experience.

Well while I do believe we need more security and de-escalation education, I also carry a palm sized tazer in my cargo pant pocket to work. I also take martial arts classes. I realize that in the event that someone really wants to hurt me neither of these tools may be enough, but I'd rather be able to attempt to help myself then rely on the inefficent, cost effective policies of the hospital. I do not believe that it is inappropriate for me to carry a non-leathal weapon to my hospital job and I encourage other nurses to do so. I do not believe that weapons cause violence, people do. I believe that we need to quit being wussy about defending ourselves (as nurses or regular citizens) and have these false expectations of others being responsible for doing it for us. Yes, you should feel a certian amount of security in doing your job, but that should not be an excuse for you to be lazy about protecting yourself from harm. I guarentee you that if a few patients, doctors, and or families got tazed by a nurse that they laid hands on with malicious intent, fewer people would act like fools when they went to the hospital.


Specializes in Medical surgical. Has 28 years experience.

Ditto, and scared to loose our jobs, trauma for nurses, young like myself, errors occur and you are thrown to the wolves, NO THANK YOU NOTHING.