Scared of being harmed at work.. Am I overreacting?

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OK, just a quick back story. I currently work as a nurse in a drug/alcohol detox facility. We are a small privately owned facility. I work over nights and I am the only nurse. During the overnight shift there is also one of female tech that works with the residential clients. We are on a ranch so there a separate buildings. I am in my own building with 4 patients....

So at my facility there is no security, no security cameras.... NOTHING! We are surrounded by a community of homes that are on the same street as us.

There was an incident last night where a neighbor ran to our facility banging on my window, half naked... yelling "HELP ME, HELP ME! He is trying to kill me!!" Of course as any human I was scared ****less!! I froze and was unsure if I should help her and let her in or be cautious of letting her in. This situation sent me into fight or flight mode. My whole body was shaking.  I ended up not letting her to protect the safety of my clients that are in this building with me and my own. I called the cops and notified the tech. 

Come to find out... this woman has been here multiple times with the same scenario yelling and crying for help!  The tech stated she has been doing this for 2+ years..

This also wasn't the only scenario where I've had a stranger enter our property. Once at 2am I had a man walk in that was high and emotional asking for me to find his family member that he believed was at our facility. Not to mention, the time when a client came back PLASTERED after getting kicked out of the program and tried to assault the techs, threatened the staff and damage property in a violent rage!

Yes, I work in a psych setting.. however, what precautions are being taken for the safety of my clients and the staff? I emailed my boss about my concerns and asked that he get security or fix the cameras so that I will be able to see who is on our property!! I did not get any reply from him.. I talked to the other staff about this suggestion - they completely blew me off and said that lady is just crazy! Just lock the doors!

Am I overreacting? I really have the urge to just quit this job. Yesterday was the second time since working here that I felt that I was going to die. When the man walked in the first time in the state that he was I feared something was gonna happen and now this.... I feel like I have valid feelings but then feel like maybe I just need to have thicker skin as a psych nurse .

What do y'all think?


5 Posts

sorry for all the typos. I was emotional writing this. 


2,453 Posts

I have no idea what is normal in this setting.

But, "Yesterday was the second time since working here that I felt that I was going to die."  thinking you are going to die is not normal at work.

How much psych experience do you have?

What kind of training and orientation did you have?  

The other staff feel you are over reacting.  Are these experienced, competent professionals with good judgement?  If so, you may be over reacting.  OTOH, if they are dimwitted and incompetent, I wouldn't take advice from them.

And, if there were security cameras installed, they were installed for a reason.  If they are not working, that is wrong.  If your boss does not care about this, he/she is a bad person to work for.

Good luck.


5 Posts

Thank you for your response. 

I’m a new nurse, and I’ve been in this field for about 6 months.

When I started working they had remodeled the nursing station and never finished setting up the cameras..  & since then, have failed to fix them for the past 6 months.

The staff was aware that this woman comes to our property crying for help. Therefore, I feel that they do not understand why I was so shaken up I was by the situation. They just see her as “the crazy neighbor.” However, she was crying about her husband trying to kill her.. so who’s to say her husband won’t come to our property next time? 

I decided that I’m giving my notice. There should be no reason why I’m by myself without any cameras or security staff. No job is worth peace of mind. 

Sour Lemon

5,016 Posts

Has 13 years experience.

I would not feel safe without a second staff member in the building. Cameras would not pacify me. The "crazy" lady knocking on the door would be of little concern, especially after hearing that it's her normal behavior. The problem, for me, would be the patients on the INSIDE.

Specializes in PMHNP/Adjunct Faculty. Has 9 years experience.

I would never work in any psych environment without another staff member with me. I know too many people that have been injured on the job to ever give the patients benefit of the doubt. Some patients can become delirious while detoxing from alcohol/Benzos and quite violent. If something happens to me I want someone to know right then, not in the morning when they come in for shift change. 

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hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

4 Articles; 4,721 Posts

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life). Has 21 years experience.

First of all you have the right to feel safe at work. If the workplace is unsafe due to lack of security or improperly maintained security equipment including pull alrms for 911 notification I would let my feet do the walking and find another job.

I don't necessarily think your over reacting but I do agree with Hhern that thinking you were about to die due the described scenario was a bit over the top. You are a fairly new nurse if I read your posts correctly and have only been working for 6 months. This is why I rarely endorse psych nursing for the new grad. It's not that new grad can't do the job but being put in the situation you decribe without proper support is a set up for failure. 

The fact that staff if aware of this worman who comes screaming to your door fairly regularly is not a good thing as nurses being mandated reporter are required by law to report any reasonably suspected neglect or abuse. Sure this isn't your facilities patient but I would be concerned for her safety and call the police (911) every time.

It sounds as though your fear is not of the patients but rather the fafct that you are in a semi-secluded area without adequate back-up.

If you really want to break into psych and didn't just take this job because it was all you could get - I would seriously look at going to work in an actual psych facility which is alot different from an inpatient drug/alcohol rehab. Learn how to deescalate people safety and also how to safely do hand's on intervention when necessary . It will help you to build comfidence in yourself and your abilities and make you a better stronger nurse at whatever your future holds. 

Good luck to you 



9 Posts

Has 9 years experience.

I didn’t even read the paragraph. I read the first sentence. One day I will guarantee a patient is going to verbally or physically assault you

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hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

4 Articles; 4,721 Posts

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life). Has 21 years experience.
On 9/15/2020 at 1:05 AM, MLTBB20 said:

I didn’t even read the paragraph. I read the first sentence. One day I will guarantee a patient is going to verbally or physically assault you

I guess that's true in 20 years I was physically assaulted twice in one I was rescued by another patient who pulled my attacker off me. No real harm done that time. The second attack resulted in a skull fracture and I left psych for a couple of years, but came back. I'm smarter/less trusting than I was but still love working with psych patients more than any other population .



5 Posts

The thing is ..I’ve had such great interactions/experiences with our clients. I never feared them being a threat to me.

When this lady came to our property she was terrified. Maybe I watch too much dateline 20/20, but I feared there was a shooter following her and we were all gonna die too. 

 My job HAD us cameras outside the nursing station. There were screens for us to in our station to view what was going on around us. 
We don’t even have that now. 

Since that incident, I lock all the doors after a certain time..I’m constantly looking out the window. I just feel no there’s no type of safety/security. you all are right... especially in the psych world there should be more support and security. It shouldn’t just be me. Even though the patients haven’t given me trouble now.. its just a set up for failure.  I’m counting down the days until It’s my last. 

Specializes in ICU. Has 24 years experience.

My safety is more important than any paycheck...look for the work you are passionate about in an envirorment you are comfortable.

subee, MSN, CRNA

4,590 Posts

Specializes in CRNA, Finally retired. Has 51 years experience.

Why was a door open at 2 am for someone to enter the building?