Pressing charges on a psych patient?

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rn/writer, RN

17 Articles; 4,168 Posts

One of the challenges is that psych is a big umbrella that covers psychosis. PTSD and dementia as well as behavioral issues where the patient is capable of making better choices. It's all considered mental health territory, even though the diagnoses and the needs can be radically different.

It's ludicrous to look at an 85-year-old woman who, in her mind, is fighting for her life in Nazi Germany the same way you would view a 16-year-old girl who counts among her favorite diversions a rousing game of "scratch and spit (and kick and bite)" with the staff.

Kieshia

6 Posts

I'm kind of confused I'm a student getting my BSN..If I am attacked by someone I'm there to help like seriously injured is it bad to seek legal help or should I go to someone else? I mean I know that I'm personally not pressing charges agenst someone that doesn't really know what there doing but like in my externship for MA I got hurt by a drunk and pressed charges was that bad? I got alot of crap for it.

Specializes in Psych. Has 12 years experience.

I would surely press charges and let the police and courts sort it out. I've taken care of a few patients in the last few months who were depressed and suicidal because they had a court date coming up for assulting health care workers. Which in Vermont is now a huge deal. It's not ok to assult someone outside or inside the hospital.

MrChicagoRN, RN

2,589 Posts

Specializes in Leadership, Psych, HomeCare, Amb. Care. Has 30 years experience.
I would surely press charges and let the police and courts sort it out. I've taken care of a few patients in the last few months who were depressed and suicidal because they had a court date coming up for assulting health care workers. Which in Vermont is now a huge deal. It's not ok to assult someone outside or inside the hospital.

I skipped most of these posts, but agree to a point.

Nurses don't sign away their right to equal protection under the law when they walk into work. If it was a serious attack, and feel it should be reported, then do so. Just not for silly stuff. Keep in mind there's a difference between acting out & acting up, and the acting up is what really needs to be addressed.

rn/writer, RN

17 Articles; 4,168 Posts

I'm kind of confused I'm a student getting my BSN..If I am attacked by someone I'm there to help like seriously injured is it bad to seek legal help or should I go to someone else? I mean I know that I'm personally not pressing charges agenst someone that doesn't really know what there doing but like in my externship for MA I got hurt by a drunk and pressed charges was that bad? I got alot of crap for it.

It's a waste of time and pointless besides to try to press charged against someone who is psychotic. Such patients really don't know what they're doing, or at least they don't grasp the significance of it.

But someone who has borderline personality disorder or who has tantrums when staff members try to set limits--that's a whole different ballgame.

Someone who is under the influence? Yeah, I'd probably try to hold them accountable. The law doesn't give folks a pass if they injure someone because they decided to drink or drug too much.

Consequences don't mean a bucket of peanuts with someone who is delusional. But they're just what the doctor ordered for those whose behavior can be shaped and altered by negative conditioning.

xtxrn, ASN, RN

4,266 Posts

What if a person isn't really aware of what they are doing (having a seizure, reaction to prescription meds)? Should you press charges then? Is it fair for a person to end up with a criminal record when they are truly sick?

I am not talking about people who are mentally competent who are just mean, frustrated, etc.

What should they be charged with- adverse medical reaction? Being post-ictal? In those situations, my belief is that the caregiver is responsible for keeping him/herself and the patient safe. If you get whacked by a flailing limb, back up :)

Medication reactions are not a crime. Neither are seizures, being demented, having honest-to-goodness flashbacks of being in a war, etc.....

Crime involves intent. If they're not aware, they really can't be prosecuted. :)

oopsimout

20 Posts

Specializes in Chronic Disease. Has 2 years experience.

there is a serious difference between a patient that should not be held accountable and one that is just mean. i was given a left hook to the jaw and knocked a little kookoo by a patient having a seizure. one minute he was fine during his assessment and the next i was rocking backwards in pain. he wasn't drunk, had never been rude or even remotely appeared violent. upon first look he was a little confused and disoriented. i had already called an ambulance but i was checking his bp and bam!! the cops came because they always came to ems calls in the rural locations. asked me if i wanted to press charges because my jaw was already swollen and turning black and blue, my ears were still ringing too. i chose not to because as most have said, what point would that serve for a patient that was completely unaware of what he had done. now if it had been a coherent patient, raging family member or another staff member? you bet i would press charges. no one has the right to become violent with someone else. it doesn't matter if we have on scrubs or a three piece suit. just because we are nurses doesn't make us the whipping boy for society.