Nurses, have you been been spit on, pushed, scratched and verbally or assaulted?

  1. Unfortunately, it is quite common in the nursing profession to have had been assaulted one way or another by a patient at some point in your career.

    For some reason, it is tolerated in the nursing profession and is just accepted as "part of the job"? Police do not tolerate this type of abuse, nor do most professions, why is it tolerated in the nursing profession?

    Do to recent stories of fatal violence in hospitals, I wanted to poll all of you AN'ers and see what kind of percentage of nurses from all specialties have had to deal with violence in some fashion.

    I think we all would like to see policies change to have a safer work environments, please share this poll with your nursing friends, Facebook etc.... Thanks

    Related News:

    Please take a second and answer our poll, then if you wish, please share your stories of your experiences.
    Last edit by brian on Sep 22, '10
  2. Poll: Nurses, have you been been spit on, pushed, scratched and verbally assaulted?

    • Yes

      87.19% 1,211
    • No

      12.81% 178
    1389 Votes
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    About Brian, ADN

    Joined: Mar '98; Posts: 15,418; Likes: 16,388 founder; from US
    Specialty: CCU, Geriatrics, Critical Care, Tele


  4. by   ShayRN
    I think the question should really say, Nurses, have you been been spit on, pushed, scratched and verbally or assaulted by a patient who is A&O x3 or visitors?
    Makes a big difference to me if the person doing this is confused and scared or just plain mean. It wouldn't have changed my answer, however, lol.
  5. by   laughing weasel
    Funny old ex-preacher did not want a bath first day of clinicals. I was sure not going to get in trouble for not doing part of patient care. I gave him bath while being choked. Lots of jokes about it later.
  6. by   nvsmom
    Quote from laughing weasel
    Funny old ex-preacher did not want a bath first day of clinicals. I was sure not going to get in trouble for not doing part of patient care. I gave him bath while being choked. Lots of jokes about it later.

    So what can nurses do in this situation? Are you allowed to defend yourself? I would really hate someone spitting on me.
  7. by   oramar
    Only one time, in all those years I worked was I ever deliberately hurt by a patient that was in full possession of their mental faculties. My manager was very insistent that I ambulate a very belligerent patient. All my warning bells were going off but I followed the bosses instructions. While I was walking the person down the hall she reached up with her claw like nails and slashed my face. In addition on a small number of occasions, confronted by very hostile family member who were most likely on a combination of drugs and alcohol. I had a very uncomfortable feeling that I might be assaulted if I said or did the wrong thing but it never happened. That because I am very good at calming a tense situation. Additionally, on an equally small number of occasions, I had very demented elderly persons smack me but they were tiny women who couldn't hurt a fly if they tried. Once on step down, a post by-pass patient whose blood gasses were very bad threw a phone at me but he missed. I blame the doc that moved him out of ICU because there is no way a person with P02 and CO2 levels like that should have been moved to step down. The guy was actually a very nice guy that was absolutely gorked. He had no memory of doing it but later on when his wife told him what he did he was very apologetic.
  8. by   traumaRUs
    I was spit on by a pt in the ER. I pressed charges, he went to jail. 6 weeks later, I went to court and testified. He went to jail for 6 months and now has a felony assault conviction.

    In IL, its a felony to assault a healthcare worker
  9. by   nursemike
    Quote from nvsmom

    So what can nurses do in this situation? Are you allowed to defend yourself? I would really hate someone spitting on me.
    The important thing to understand is that you can defend yourself, but it has to be defensive. You can deflect a blow, but not return one. You can use physical force when it's appropriate, but not as punishment. Your goal must always be to keep yourself AND your patient safe.

    And, as another poster noted, if the patient (or visitor, or coworker) is mentally competent, you can always file criminal charges for criminal behavior.
  10. by   KaroSnowQueen
    I have been : spit on, slapped, punched, kicked, had my fingers twisted, my hair pulled, my glasses yanked off, had my arm broken by a male patient who was being actually physically restrained by at least three other co workers during the attack, called every horrible and vile name known to God and man by patients, patients' family members, co workers and physicians.

    (Not to mention being sexually propositioned by patients, patients family members and pinched on the tush by more than one old man who may or may not have been demented.)

    And what did the Powers that Be do about it all? Not one blessed thing. Not one. Except refuse to allow me to go to ER about my broken arm as I was the only nurse in the building at the time. (TPTB were all at home snug in their beds. I had to go after my shift. I was young stupid and poor. I would NEVER do that again. Now I would say there was NO nurse in the building, see ya later.
  11. by   RNAV8R
  12. by   cherryames1949
    I was sexually assaulted by an orthodox rabbi when he was 5 days post-op. I was told by a supervisor after I reported it that "You can handle it". I was lucky that after a dose of prescribed pain medication he slept through the night. I have had my breasts touched in a bone marrow unit and a step down unit. I was kicked across the room by a male patient whose lytes were out of wack. I was also slapped by a alert and oriented x 3 post op women. I am sure that there have been other instances I can't remember. All of these incidents happened in the hospital. I have never been physically assaulted in the office or while doing home care although these two venues have potential for violence. I think that all health care providers need to take the threat of violence, to their employees, seriously and have clear policies and procedures in place to deal with these issues. Telling your employee to handle it will not cut it. There needs to be a zero tolerance policy for violence.
  13. by   justpoorfect
    Verbal assaults only so far.. "I want to punch you in your FAT nose!" (The one part on my body I believe is still quite pert!) and "I will cut your T*ts off!" (Not quite as pert, but precious!)
  14. by   Ruby Vee
    i think a lot of the abuse visited upon nurses by alert and oriented patients and by visitors depends somewhat upon where you're practicing. when i worked in a small community hospital in the midwest, patients and visitors were, for the most part, pleasant, cooperative and grateful. (i did get into the middle of two violent episodes there, but one was between police and a perp who ran into our building to get away from them, and the other was between a beaten woman and the husband who was trying to finish the job.)

    it seems as though everyone carries a gun everywhere in montana -- ok, that's a sterotype, i know, but when you walk into the liquor store and see a guy with a six shooter on his hip . . . . the man shooting the rifle through the windows of the icu was only trying to kill his wife, not the rest of the hospital staff. although the guy who shot my friend in the posterior was trying to shoot the nurse.

    in a large, inner city hospital many of the patients and the visitors are from the ghetto. people use guns and violence to resolve "business problems" and one of the most dangerous people around is "that dude" who "up and shot them" when they were only minding their business on a street corner. it's all too common to see police detectives interviewing witnesses, victims, suspects, etc. in and around the sicu and the or waiting room. the one time i was in the er there, it seemed that there were more city police than nursing staff around, and more than one of the patients was in custody. it's a different kind of violence when your patients and your visitors are from that sort of an environment. verbal abuse and threats are commonplace, and knives and guns aren't uncommon.

    most of the violent episodes i've witnessed or been involved with -- the ones that involve visitors or alert and oriented patients anyway -- are because someone is dissatisfied with some aspect of the care they or their loved one have received. in almost every case, the care has been appropriate if not exemplary and the patient or family had unreasonable expectations. the most recent case -- where armed family members wanted to "get" the resident who drew blood cultures on the patient because "he assaulted our sister"-- the family had expectations that we were going to save a young woman who had been in and out of hospitals for years because she absolutely failed to comply with any aspect of her treatment plan. after fingerpainting poop all over her open abdominal incisions -- "because you bit###s didn't get your lazy a$$es in here when i wanted you" the woman had a massive wound infection, sepsis and multi system organ failure. she was dying. the family announced that "you'd save her if she weren't black." both expectations -- that we give lesser care based on race, and that we can save someone who refuses to cooperate in any way -- were erroneous.

    the nurses who say they've never experienced violence or abuse at work due to their superior skills at calming and defusing situations may be partially right. but i'll bet they're just pretty darned lucky as well.
  15. by   mvg rn
    Well working the front desk, I have been called a #itch among other things for simply enforcing our visitation policy in the NICU and had to call the hospital police to get her to leave.