Patients spitting & nurse rights


Just wondering, I've seen soooo many posts about nurses being spit on, cursed, bitten....what is the recourse for nurses, if any? Do you have to continue to care for the patient, how do you handle it? Thanks

Well if they are in their right mind its actually assault....

Jules A, MSN

8,863 Posts

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

In psych it just kind of goes with the territory.

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ghillbert, MSN, NP

3,796 Posts

Specializes in CTICU. Has 27 years experience.

It's actually battery rather than assault.

Just looked this up....

Intentionally spitting on another person qualifies as "simple assault" under the theory of assault as an attempted or completed battery, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday


75 Posts

Has 15 years experience.

well... if my patient was restrained and I was in there trying to do care or especially wound care when I worked in the trauma ICU I put a surgical mask on their face until I was done.. lol.. and they just end up spitting on their face then.. Usually these patients were not in their right state of mind, going through dt's of some drug or substance, waking up from sedation meds from being on the vent.. or just simply psychotic..


56 Posts

Specializes in Geriatrics..

We had a male RN who was hit from behind by a patient and this nurse whirled around and slapped this patient out of his chair. The nurse was placed on leave and the BON ended up deciding this nurse's response was a normal reflex reaction and no disciplinary action was warranted.


349 Posts

Nurse and rights...contradiction in terms if I ever heard one.:D

Specializes in M/S, MICU, CVICU, SICU, ER, Trauma, NICU. Has 19 years experience.

Under the effects of anesthesia, people go NUTS. Spit, hit, curse, Bite.

Not their fault.

For those of full mind and body, can talk to the police and my SIL, who happens to be a lawyer.


Specializes in ER, IICU, PCU, PACU, EMS. Has 17 years experience.
Nurse and rights...contradiction in terms if I ever heard one.:D

I'm not going to be anyone's punching bag for any reason.

I don't understand why this is an acceptable statement. It's disheartening actually.

JB2007, ASN, RN

554 Posts

Specializes in LTC, Med-SURG,STICU. Has 5 years experience.

If they are not in danger of hurting themselves or others I tell them this is not acceptable behavior and I leave the room. I take this as a refusal of treatment if the person is in their right mind. I also document what happened. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior out of anyone in their right mind. I am not anyone's punching bag.

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JBudd, MSN

1 Article; 3,836 Posts

Specializes in Trauma, Teaching. Has 42 years experience.

We put spit bags over their head; mesh bag with a loose neck piece. Needless to say, wrist restraints, and possibly legs as well. We don't put up with that in the ER. Alternatively, until the bag arrives, pull their Tshirt up over their face.

As for the non-drunk/high/psychotic/manic/idiot-under-arrest; they aren't the ones spitting at me! But a PD report and charges for battery on a "health care worker performing their duties" would happen, we have a nice bit of legislation in NM for that very reason.

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