Again - I apologize for my snottiness - please understand it comes from a place of being in that nurse's position of having a drunk volatile pt physically assaulting me.
Here is a direct quote from the OP:
Yes he was holding the nurse's arm, but he had also just punched them in the chest and face. So I would like to remind everyone it wasn't as simple as just holding onto the nurse's arm. Yes at that point the pt was holding the nurse's arm, but was his other arm raised in a fist? Was he suggesting the hitting would continue? Was he moving toward the nurse? Was he trying to get off the scanner table and come toward the nurse? Was he........was he.....etc. There are so many unanswered questions in the scenario, but I still would give the nurse the benefit of the doubt.
OK and onward -
Point #4 - police were present in the immediate vicinity. That would be better wording from me. In our scanner, it is arranged so that the "window" that separates the pt from the staff or police or whoever is about 8 feet away and a few running steps. My point is that even with people close by, I would still respond with physical force if someone was (or had just been) punching me.
Point # 6 - I think we will just have to disagree. I'm not sure I can assume all those things about how they were feeling. Yes, they expressed dismay that they "lost it", as I think any of us would. When I say I would physically respond to someone assaulting me, that doesn't mean I would brag about it later or be proud of myself (not saying that is what you are implying - just bringing my thoughts out here). I would definitely be upset that I had to resort to that point and feel sad. But I would still do it to protect myself.
Point #7 - for my assault and my fighting back - my hospital fully supported me in my actions. The risk manager didn't have any concerns at all. My manager was more concerned about my safety than my actions. She was supportive.
Point #10 - please realize that all hospitals are not the same. Staffing at a rural hospital is insane - especially at night. At a rural hospital I've worked at, noc shift staffing was 3 RN's for the entire hospital. 1 in ER, 2 on the floor, another for ICU if we had a pt. The ER had no other staff in it - just the nurse and the doctor (if the doctor was actually inhouse and didn't go home for the night). Police officers at night on duty usually ran about 2 or 3 for the entire county (Very rural, seriously - 10,000 square miles of pretty much nothing but sagebrush and a few people thrown in for good measure).
So - using that scenario................. think of drunk pt in ER - to CT scanner with one nurse, maybe 2 officers (since the other one was probably on the other side of the county), doctor not present, CT tech running computer. Nurse next to pt with lead gown on, which weighs you down and makes it difficult to move anyway. Pt starts to fight- hits you in face, chest, grabs arm (probably took about 1-2 seconds). Police may be coming towards you to help.............. I would still fight back. Really, I would. It takes one punch to knock you out or to permanently damage you. It takes one punch to damage your airway. One punch can happen in the time it takes the police to take a few more steps toward you. Yes.............I would hit the pt to make them stop. The police could take over from there.
NOw I know not everywhere is rural and more people may be present to help, but think about the situation from that viewpoint.