Nursing can be hazardous to your health

Nurses General Nursing


Who would have thought I'd receive a death threat....

This is a subject that weighs heavy on my heart and I just have to share this experience. It is a true event that took place this past year...

It was a typical busy noc at work, I had just floated to one of the busiest units in the hospital.(Mind you, I had the first four hours on a different unit, so I finally got to this unit around midnight). Upon completion of report, I busied myself w/ nursing rounds to check the status of my patients and prioritize my duties...I had inherited quite a mess. Two male confused patients, a broken PICC line, an impending dressing change that wasn't taken care of on the previous shift(and the pt was fuming):(

And of course, I had two more pt's to add to my load. During initial rounds four of my patients were sleeping. I decided to repair the PICC first, change the dressing, while keeping a watchful eye on the confused male patients.

Upon arriving to their room, bed one was awake, and disoriented;however, there was a horrible stench coming from bed two. I went to check on him and discovered feces everywhere!:uhoh21: I wakened him and told him that I would be his nurse and was going to get him, the bed and yes, even the telephone cleaned up. He was way out in left field.

I went to the BR to retrieve clean up supplies... when I heard loud, audible stridor type noises coming from bed two. Instinctively I ran to his BS to find him cyanotic, gasping for air, and trying to climb OOB. I yelled for help and the crash cart. To make a long story short, we coded the pt, and later he was pronounced by the ER MD. The attending was notified and I placed a call to the family....the son's first response was: "YOU B*@#$!, I'm gonna kill you!--you killed my father! I attempted to calm him down and explain what took place, he would have none of it...he stated he was on his way in to wipe out the whole floor.

The house supervisor, who was present alerted security, while I called the attending to let him know what was going on. In the meantime, I'm shaking like a leaf---all I could think of was that my precious child that I was carrying might not make it to this world.

Guess, what the attending MD's reply was when I called him? "Oh, it's normal---he (the son is just venting)" Well, I replied with " Well, he's made a threat against you too!" He promptly changed his tune and stated he'd call the son.

During all of this I received several other calls from the patient's children who called me every name but the son of GOD. Only one daughter was civilized and understood that her father was very ill, but she also informed me that if her brothers' made a threat, they would indeed carry it out. First of all, she said brothers, so there was more than one. Secondly, I was nearly hysterical by this time. While I was on the phone with this particular family member, the patient's daughter in law was on another line with one of my coworkers exclaiming that the car was gone, her husband and his gun was missing!

We alerted the police, and in the end both sons were barricaded in their home and yes, they were on their way w/ guns. Thus, a thwarted attempt to carry out their plan.

I arrived home very late that am, obviously upset and disheveled.

The previous noc's events played over and over in my never even escorted me to my car and never even followed up with me. To add further insult to injury, the police officers informed me that there was nothing I could do. Yes, they threatened me, but unless they actually showed up and brandished their weapon--nothing legally could be done to those men.

wow, what a scary position to be in! Is the hospital admin doing anything?


6 Posts

Nope not a D@#$ thing.

Specializes in Mostly LTC, some acute and some ER,.

That is scary!!!!!! I undersand being angry if a parent died, but there is no excuse for that kind of talk and behavior.

Tweety, BSN, RN

33,508 Posts

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

That's aweful. How much time was wasted on this nonsense and how your other patients must have been neglected.

It's a shame that threats like that can't be prosecuted. (Many an abused woman has died because you have to wait until they kill you before they can do anything).

Just curious what are your expectations of the hospital at this point. If the police can't do anything????


558 Posts

Wow, You are in my prayers. I dont know what I would do, but I sure feel for you.


I lost a very great friend from something like this.... Right after I graduated nursing school one of my best preceptors had one of those nights from He(( , in the ER. It was one of the worst nights I could say the hospital had. Needless to say during the shift she had worked a code on an elderly gentleman that was an apparent OD. The family disfunctional as they come, ranted and raved in the ER , security was called and the police as well, Everyone had assumed that everything had been cleared up by the police during the shift since we had not heard a further word on the matter. Diane left the ER walking to the parking lot.... she had walked with a few nurses from the ER and other supervisors to the car... she headed home, she lived on a county road 20 minutes from the hospital... they found her later that day, her car had been run off the road and her throat had been slit and many slanderous words written on her uniform and her car, with her own blood. There was paint on her car that didnt match hers, well it turned out that a family member that had threatend her previously in the night waited for her to leave. Followed her home and when they had the chance they ran her off the road and did that to her. The person was charged and the case did go to court, but it didnt matter she was murderd for doing her job, she left 3 children and a husband behind. It was horrible and still is to this day. I take threats very seriously reguardless of who makes them, and the hospital should as well.... There are many people out there that will act on their words, reguardless of what the situation is... You should be able to press charges if the threats were witnessed, and not to have you become paranoid , by any means you only did your job but there are people out there that are as nutty as a fruitcake.



1,244 Posts

I would absolutely take the threats seriously and see what a lawyer says. It's really strange that the police can't do anything; they had a verbal threat against you personally and an attempt to carry it out, from the looks of things.


1,577 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg Nursing.

Your hospital is supposed to provide a hostile-free work environment. I'd check with a lawyer and would've DEMANDED to be escorted to my car by security. Good luck! I'll pray for you!



20,964 Posts

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis.

Oh my Gosh what an awful thing. I am literally nauseated at reading this story. Horrified. I agree w/the others. Get a lawyer and use the law to its fullest extent to protect yourself the best you can. I will say a prayer for you. Anyone could be in your situation. Anyone. You did nothing wrong. Pls update us as to how you are whenever possible.

I believe that for a threat to be assault the person needs to have the ability and means to carry out the threat.

This man and his sibs clearly have that ability. I would make sure there was written documentation of the incident with witness identified, that my manager and the hospital's risk manager and CNO, COO, CEO, and HR knew about the incident. I would call an attorney, and file a police report.

Often people make these threats and don't mean anything by them, sometimes they do--but it is not acceptable behavior in civilized society and there are laws to let people know they have stepped over the line--grieving or not.

You deserve protection but don't wait for it to come to you, go out and make sure you get it.


6,011 Posts


If this person had said these things in reference to the President, the Governor or even the Mayor of the town, I'd bet the Police response would have been different.

When my daughter was a toddler, I got a call at work from a woman who said to me...."I know where your daughter is and I'm going to get her."

My boss called the FBI !! I believe it was because the telephone system is federally regulated. Within an hour the agents were at my house took it seriously, made a report and they got the woman.....this was over 30 years ago!! Reading your horror story, it flashed back to me like it was yesterday.

You have been severely traumatized. You need to do as Dr. Kate says. I am not sure that escort to the car would be enough as Zoe's friend was walked to her car.

God bless you. Consider filing a W/C case. Consider asking the federal agencies and consider talking to a lawyer. Like I said I still feel it though my daughter is fine and will be 35 next week.

We're all with you. Let us know OK?

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