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Nurse Severely Beaten Injured By Patient

Updated | Published
Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist)

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

Have you been assaulted by a patient?

Unfortunately, workplace violence is increasing. Read about one nurse's story of being the victim of a violent beating which went unreported.

Nurse Severely Beaten Injured By Patient

Dear Nurse Beth,

 I am a Traveling Nurse. I genuinely love what I do. I take assignments that are in the psychiatric setting. On August 1st when coming on for my 7p to 7a shift; my charge nurse and I received the news we were getting a Covid positive patient. We were given the bare minimum for as far as PPE and we were told we wouldn't have a tech until 11pm. So two Nurses with a Covid positive patient and other patients to attempt to keep safe.

 It was a rough night. On that following morning the patient woke up early, I'm in our med room trying to chart when I hear some commotion going on out in the common area. I go to assist the only tech with the patient. The patient began to escalate. Throughout the night my charge nurse would call our adult unit that had males plus the security officer...they all refused because of the Covid positive patient.

As the patient became more aggressive he began to beat me in the face causing it to become bloody and swollen, loosening several teeth that had to be extracted ,also received a knee injury because I was pushed down. My knee is now in shreds every ligament has a tear both meniscus torn. I know Covid 19 is scary but no matter the situation the patient still requires care.

 We go through a lot as Nurses but in my 20 year career I have never been attacked. An assault that could have been avoided. A police report was never filed. The facility did not follow its own protocols and procedures. No incident report was done or sent to the state. They have yet to collect any witness statements including mine. Incidents happen like this all the time.

The employees report them and its like "oh you got punched in the nose, but can still cover your shift" which I actually did when this happened to me. I continued to work bloody face and all because the so called help refused to come because the patient was Covid positive Basically everything is being swept under the rug. Pathways presents to the public as this new innovative psychiatric hospital. Trust me it not. I want to find out whom do I report this to. I've been on the hunt since it happened.

Dear Assaulted,

I'm so very sorry. What happened to you is appalling. 

You have a civil right to call the police and report the crime. It's estimated only about 30% of healthcare workers report their assaults, and the violence against healthcare workers is increasing. As a result, several states have passed legislation making an assault on a nurse a felony with a 1 year sentence.

When you do make a police report, be sure and get a copy.

See an attorney. Your employer failed to protect you even when you called for help. You were being assaulted and the security officer refused to intervene, which is unconscionable. It's unbelievable how you were treated, and how the assault was ignored at your expense.

You are entitled to workmen's comp, which should pay for all of your injuries, physical and psychological, current and future. You are entitled to wage benefits and compensation for permanent disfigurement. You may be offered a settlement, but please do not automatically take the first amount offered. Consult with a personal injury attorney before making any binding decisions.

Prayers for your health and recovery,

Nurse Beth

Hi! Nice to meet you! I love helping new nurses in all my various roles. I work in a hospital in Staff Development, and am a blogger and author.

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40 Comment(s)

NurseJones6

Specializes in Mental Health, Corrections, Hospice Nursing. Has 21 years experience.

Thank you so much for publishing this. 

Nurse Beth, MSN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

On 10/4/2020 at 9:50 AM, NurseJones6 said:

Thank you so much for publishing this. 

I think when pts are violent to nurses, it's often excused and minimized-even by ourselves. We need to bring awareness to it and we deserve safe working conditions.

amoLucia

Specializes in LTC.

I'm most appalled at the deliberate refusal of security and the other male staff to assist in a crisis. That should also be addressed as they ARE facility employees, and thus the facility holds blame in that respect also.

To Assaulted Writer - get an attorney and by all means, FILE THAT POLICE REPORT. So sorry for you having to experience such an ordeal. Nurse Beth offers such good advice as usual. Hope you heal well, physically and emotionally. Holding good thoughts for you! 

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

Thanks, Beth for posting this and thanks to the traveling nurse for sharing your story.

You may get some great information from this website.

SilentNoMoreFoundationInc

adnrnstudent, ASN, RN

Has 5 years experience.

These psych facilities continue to not get it. You staff for safety in Psych. Sue the facility.

Nurse GreenBean, ASN, RN

Has 6 years experience.

I’ve been off of my psych unit since January after a patient attack. I’ve done light duty in other areas of the hospital when my pain levels could tolerate it, but that’s been intermittent at best. I’ve had to have spinal injections to control the resulting radiculopathy from the impact to my spine, and am now permanently on daily medication to control the pain. My facility never offered me the option of calling police. Why would they? The young, homicidal, psychotic patient was purposely placed on the geriatric unit, the ONLY unit where almost everything used for patient care - wheelchairs, oxygen typing, medical bed electrical cords, heavy stabilization chairs made of metal (his weapon of choice that he as thrown full force into my back while I was pressed face first against the wall). He was placed there because “we had an empty bed”.  He had been attacking a geriatric patient prior to going after staff. I only hope that her family is suing the facility for negligence, because that’s exactly what it was  

The severely psychotic, young, and very LARGE patient wasn’t even on 1-1 observation because the supervisor (and at the time, acting director) “doesn’t believe in that”.

I honestly didn’t even know that calling the police was an option until reading the responses just now. I contacted my union, but all they cared about was if I could speak at a safety meeting the following month, so I assumed I had no recourse. Workman’s comp has been a joke, with some of the worst doctors I have ever encountered being in charge of my care. 

I do have a lawyer, who I finally obtained after 7 months of getting run around, not having the restrictions of my light duty honored (and  thus continually getting re injured before I could heal, and r at best major flare ups of the nerve pain before it had even been managed properly). 

This has been an eye opening experience. 

I adore psych nursing. And I have an incredible opportunity at a different...and much more responsible facility. But I have to admit that I am very anxious about returning to the unit. 

I didn’t even know that Workman’s Comp would have to pay for mental health issues as a result of this. I’d be very tempted to make them pony up for some trauma work....but if the quality of their mental health workers matches the quality of their ortho doctors, I might be better off without it, TBH. 

It’s been an incredibly painful and disheartening experience. 

On 10/5/2020 at 12:18 PM, tnbutterfly - Mary said:

Thanks, Beth for posting this and thanks to the traveling nurse for sharing your story.

You may get some great information from this website.

SilentNoMoreFoundationInc

Thank you so much for this link. 

OldEMTNurse, LPN, EMT-I

Specializes in LTC. Has 24 years experience.

Protective legislation for nurses all healthcare workers needs to become a law created by the federal government and mandated by the president ASAP!

Being injured like this nurse, including ANY person working in the healthcare field  who is injured by a violent patient needs protection, needs a SAFE working environment. 

Thank you very much for making this nurse's unconscionable experience available for all of us to read. You are providing an excellent service to us all.

Some nurses have NO bedside manner and have no idea how to deescalate a situation, whether it be with a psych patient, a person living with dementia, or even a drunk or high person. 

I'm very sorry for the fact that many nurses get assaulted, but I also recognize and have seen first hand how many were not trained to appropriately deescalate and only added fuel to a fire.

Regardless of what goes down, it's important that hospitals give nurses what they need to be effective and safe. That includes training in communication and deescalation, proper PPE, appropriate patient/staff ratios, and full medical and psychological support if something violent does occur. 

Edited by K. Everly

I’ve heard too often, “Well, that’s why your getting the big bucks.” I worked nearly 20 years in Psych. This scenario happens too often.

I agree that patient' violence happens often in psych facilities! That is why they have a high turnover rate, especially where I worked. 

But, not all psych hospitals pay " big bucks". I started psych because I could not find any other job after my graduation. 

Due to workplace violence, I switched my job status from full time to per diem status and went back to school. After my graduation, I worked on the floor until COVID started and decided it is time to quit my job as I no longer feel safe as management did not provide PPE to care for patients and many coworkers tested positive for the virus. I quit psych recently and I am glad I did and now I can focus on my new role as an advanced practice nurse.

The expectation of you to continue working pizzess me off. I have wrote about this type of thing many times and it is 1 of the reasons I don't pick up extra shifts. For me it's a do what you can for as long as you need to and get out of the place. I hope you follow through with the advice because what you went through is horrible. Your knee can heal and I hope it does, also your heart may take more time due to how you were treated. You may need some mental health treatment. Assaults can happen in any bedside nursing environment. A coworker of mine was punched and knocked out cold on a oncology medsurg floor. I took care of psych pts when I worked on a oncolgy medsurg floor. The hospitals don't help as much as they can because of greed. 

Nummber Onne, ASN

Specializes in Mental Health. Has 26 years experience.

If the unit was understaffed, not only can you sue for injuries, but also for pain and suffering.  I would sue for as much as I could.  Don't think if you don't complain and be a team-player the facility will do likewise.  If fact, they will smear you if it suits them and make it difficult to find other work.  We need to bring back locked seclusion and restraints.  How manly of the males to hide and let you get beat up.  Actually, I think the men should be paid more in mental health.  I am waiting for politicians to really stick up for nurses.

Nummber Onne, ASN

Specializes in Mental Health. Has 26 years experience.

On 10/7/2020 at 8:44 PM, Workitinurfava said:

The expectation of you to continue working pizzess me off. I have wrote about this type of thing many times and it is 1 of the reasons I don't pick up extra shifts. For me it's a do what you can for as long as you need to and get out of the place. I hope you follow through with the advice because what you went through is horrible. Your knee can heal and I hope it does, also your heart may take more time due to how you were treated. You may need some mental health treatment. Assaults can happen in any bedside nursing environment. A coworker of mine was punched and knocked out cold on a oncology medsurg floor. I took care of psych pts when I worked on a oncolgy medsurg floor. The hospitals don't help as much as they can because of greed. 

Thanks

Nummber Onne, ASN

Specializes in Mental Health. Has 26 years experience.

The hospitals don't help because of patient rights advocates. They have gone way overboard.   Unfortunately, the legacy of Florence Nightingale is not as great as it seems.  Nurses were viewed as obedient parlor maids in England and not life-savers.  

Edited by Nummber Onne

Nurse GreenBean, ASN, RN

Has 6 years experience.

On 10/8/2020 at 9:26 AM, Nummber Onne said:

The hospitals don't help because of patient rights advocates. They have gone way overboard.   Unfortunately, the legacy of Florence Nightingale is not as great as it seems.  Nurses were viewed as obedient parlor maids in England and not life-savers.  

I disagree that this is due to patient rights. We don’t need to traumatize patients in order to keep them -and ourselves-safe. Actual safe staffing levels, with mandated extra staffing on higher acuity units would go a long way towards reducing issues like this. 

But then CEOs and shareholders wouldn’t see the same profits they do now, soooo....

Nummber Onne, ASN

Specializes in Mental Health. Has 26 years experience.

On 10/7/2020 at 11:17 AM, Nurse GreenBean said:

I’ve been off of my psych unit since January after a patient attack. I’ve done light duty in other areas of the hospital when my pain levels could tolerate it, but that’s been intermittent at best. I’ve had to have spinal injections to control the resulting radiculopathy from the impact to my spine, and am now permanently on daily medication to control the pain. My facility never offered me the option of calling police. Why would they? The young, homicidal, psychotic patient was purposely placed on the geriatric unit, the ONLY unit where almost everything used for patient care - wheelchairs, oxygen typing, medical bed electrical cords, heavy stabilization chairs made of metal (his weapon of choice that he as thrown full force into my back while I was pressed face first against the wall). He was placed there because “we had an empty bed”.  He had been attacking a geriatric patient prior to going after staff. I only hope that her family is suing the facility for negligence, because that’s exactly what it was  

The severely psychotic, young, and very LARGE patient wasn’t even on 1-1 observation because the supervisor (and at the time, acting director) “doesn’t believe in that”.

I honestly didn’t even know that calling the police was an option until reading the responses just now. I contacted my union, but all they cared about was if I could speak at a safety meeting the following month, so I assumed I had no recourse. Workman’s comp has been a joke, with some of the worst doctors I have ever encountered being in charge of my care. 

I do have a lawyer, who I finally obtained after 7 months of getting run around, not having the restrictions of my light duty honored (and  thus continually getting re injured before I could heal, and r at best major flare ups of the nerve pain before it had even been managed properly). 

This has been an eye opening experience. 

I adore psych nursing. And I have an incredible opportunity at a different...and much more responsible facility. But I have to admit that I am very anxious about returning to the unit. 

I didn’t even know that Workman’s Comp would have to pay for mental health issues as a result of this. I’d be very tempted to make them pony up for some trauma work....but if the quality of their mental health workers matches the quality of their ortho doctors, I might be better off without it, TBH. 

It’s been an incredibly painful and disheartening experience. 

Thank you so much for this link. 

A dirty secret is that supervisors who turn away admissions or request extra staff don't last long.

Nummber Onne, ASN

Specializes in Mental Health. Has 26 years experience.

1 hour ago, Nummber Onne said:

The hospitals don't help because they only follow the JACHO rules. Unfortunately, the legacy of Florence Nightingale is not as great as it seems.  Nurses were viewed as obedient parlor maids in England and not life-savers.