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Stop the Silence...Violence Against Nurses

Nurses Article   (24,952 Views 35 Comments 830 Words)
by JanineKelbach JanineKelbach (Member) Writer

JanineKelbach works as a RN.

2 Likes; 2 Followers; 19 Articles; 8,557 Visitors; 76 Posts

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Violence in the workplace is higher in nursing than most other fields of work. Have you ever been attacked by a patient? What are our rights as nurses? I share my story and some insight for you, as well as free resources. You are reading page 3 of Stop the Silence...Violence Against Nurses. If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

Beldar_the_Cenobite works as a Certified Nursing Assistant.

11,412 Visitors; 411 Posts

I have told patients and families on a few isolated occasions that I was going to call the police and file a report, but usually they straighten up after that and I don't actually follow through with it. I got pretty good ad de-escalation working in psych but definitely don't have the "It would never happen to me" mentality. Working in ICU I am more afraid of some idiot trying to punch buttons on a vent or IV pump than I am being assaulted.

It would be nice if machines were either in a container that was locked or had a security system where your thumb or doctors thumb were administrators that could unlock the device so that way no one can temper with it.

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Ruas61 has 35 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a Nurse.

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In a clinic, she was sprayed with lighter fluid and died? Did people just stand around and watch the fire eat away at her skin? No smoke detectors or ceiling things went off? No fire extinguisher nearby? No stop drop and roll? No one tried to put out the fire? She was literally that combustible? When the mentally disturbed patient walked in, did anyone see a big gas container and a lighter in their hand? Or did they just let them waltz on in?

Btw, how did a mentally disturbed patient WALK IN a clinic? Why were they outside to begin with? If they were from another clinic? How did they get passed staff and security?

A quick spray in the face and neck region and ignition- it can be over in a minute.

It is easy to be the arm chair quarterback...

Your words come across real judgmental, I hope I am getting the wrong vibe.

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95 Likes; 1 Follower; 11,573 Visitors; 1,246 Posts

No it's not over, maybe you never had a 250lbs 6 foot dude run up to you and push you into the wall. That was one of the scariest things I ever been through in nursing. Not just at the actions of the guy but I feared for the rage I had in me when a swore an oath to do no harm. This was not in ED it was on the floor. I got a huge temper and had I not withhold myself I probably would have loss my RN license and punched the hell out of that patient. I was nervous to return to work for several weeks. I find your remarks condescending to say the least. Go tell a rape victim to just "Get over it".

I never swore any oath to "do no harm". That's for doctors and it isn't an oath not to defend one's self. I couldn't begin to recall the number of times a patient tried to hurt me but I do remember one that tried to stab me (I still have the knife).

Condescending is in the eye of the beholder and why does everything go to "rape?" Are we talking about sexual assault here? Clearly a different conversation.

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hopefulRN'17 has 20 years experience and works as a Dental assistant New grad RN.

16,281 Visitors; 680 Posts

My husband is a paramedic. He had a combative patient rip off his restraints and try to escape the ER. Ultimately my husband is responsible for that patient and the two of them got into it. In the end, my husband tore all ligaments in his knee and was out of work for months. Not only did this patient hurt my husband, but he also hauled off on another paramedic and broke his arm moments later. We live in a state where A&B on an emergency technician will get you 90 days - 2 1/2 years in the House of Corrections or a fine. You know what happened? NOTHING....

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1 Article; 1,688 Visitors; 104 Posts

- police

- military

- security

- teaching in inner city

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JBudd has 38 years experience as a MSN and works as a ED nurse, community college adjunct faculty.

5 Likes; 2 Followers; 34,928 Visitors; 3,672 Posts

In my state assault (verbal) is a misdemeanor, threatening bodily harm or death & physical battery are felonies, when done to a health care worker in pursuit of duties.

I was bitten, my coworkers and I tackled to the floor: Police reports, photos, grand jury and conviction on two counts of battery on a health care worker. My hospital never even suggested that we not pursue it.

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snoozin has 9 years experience.

802 Visitors; 7 Posts

I do agree with the other poster. Just because the hospital you work for has no clear rules/procedures against violence by patients, does not mean you cannot call the police and file a police report against the violent patient.

Unfortunately, most will then find themselves unemployed.

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Daisy4RN has 20 years experience.

502 Likes; 1 Follower; 5,616 Visitors; 761 Posts

Honestly this sounds like a personal issue, we as healthcare professionals are certainly expected to understand but please do not confuse that with tolerate.

Understand =/= Tolerate

I have called the police on a patient, I have called on the behalf of my nurses, I have seen others call. I am not sure where you are getting this tolerate thing from?

I think nurses tend to shrug off violence to some degree as knowing it is not worth their time (who hasn't) but I do not know about some widespread conspiracy to accept abuse just because we are nurses.

I personally have let things go like being bit by someone confused simply because I got the pleasure of throwing a 4 point restraint on them...plus I had enough charting with q15min assessments and didn't want to fill out anymore paperwork...but I do not think that is what you are talking about, or is it?

If by "personal issue" you mean I would not like being verbally abused, spit on, have things thrown at me etc etc, then yes its personal.

I am not talking about confused/dementia pts etc. (obviously I understand the difference!), I am talking about those who know exactly what they are doing, and do it (violence), because they know they can get away with it. I am glad that not all hospitals allow this culture of violence, but it has been my personal experience (at more than one hospital) to observe this abuse of staff. I don't think that there is some conspiracy (from nurses) to accept violence, I think that they do (accept it) because admin allows the culture to continue, as I stated their responses like...Oh the poor patient... etc, and as others have stated, if staff says anything then bye bye employee.

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macawake has 10 years experience.

2 Likes; 72,085 Visitors; 1,101 Posts

If by "personal issue" you mean I would not like being verbally abused, spit on, have things thrown at me etc etc, then yes its personal.

Seeing as Flatline's post was in direct response to your previous post...

I also realize that many other people/professions are at risk, but I think that, in general (with exceptions like police etc), nurses are supposed to tolerate and "understand" that the patients are just sick etc (therefore cant control themselves) ...and other professions do not tolerate this behavior (spitting on the OP etc).

... I'm guessing that's not what Flatline meant at all. Few people want to be spat on, verbally or physically abused or otherwise assaulted.

I think that what Flatline meant, and what I know that I mean, is that the idea that nurses are supposed to tolerate violence is a construct of your own making.

Several posters, myself included, have argued that we don't feel like we have to tolerate assaults, and we don't. I don't believe that you have to tolerate it either.

I am glad that not all hospitals allow this culture of violence, but it has been my personal experience (at more than one hospital) to observe this abuse of staff. I don't think that there is some conspiracy (from nurses) to accept violence, I think that they do (accept it) because admin allows the culture to continue, as I stated their responses like...Oh the poor patient... etc, and as others have stated, if staff says anything then bye bye employee.

Is it an actual common occurrence that a nurse first gets assaulted, then exercises his/her legal right to notify law enforcement regarding the assault/battery and subsequently gets fired? Is this something you are afraid could happen or have you actually experienced this? Personally, I don't understand why anyone would take that lying down. I would raise absolute hell if my employer did that to me or anyone I worked with.

Now I'm lucky in that I live and work in a country were you can only be terminated for cause, but I'm willing to bet that even in countries with more "employer-friendly" laws, employers avoid bad publicity like the plague. If an employer fires a nurse because s/he was assaulted, raise a stink. Employers, just like most people, only do what they think they can get away with. Make the option of firing a nurse the least appealing one for them. If they don't understand that assault and battery is illegal, even when perpetrated against healthcare professionals, they may need to be reminded about that fact.

I don't think the root of the problem is the culture of the respective hospitals we work for (even though I admit that it's preferable to work for a supportive employer), the solution to any problems you feel you have with tolerating violence in the workplace lies with you and your coworkers. You have that power. My advice is that you use it.

Edited by macawake

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1 Like; 1 Follower; 4,661 Visitors; 373 Posts

If by "personal issue" you mean I would not like being verbally abused, spit on, have things thrown at me etc etc, then yes its personal.

I am not talking about confused/dementia pts etc. (obviously I understand the difference!), I am talking about those who know exactly what they are doing, and do it (violence), because they know they can get away with it. I am glad that not all hospitals allow this culture of violence, but it has been my personal experience (at more than one hospital) to observe this abuse of staff. I don't think that there is some conspiracy (from nurses) to accept violence, I think that they do (accept it) because admin allows the culture to continue, as I stated their responses like...Oh the poor patient... etc, and as others have stated, if staff says anything then bye bye employee.

By personal issue I mean that your own victimhood, failure to act, and ignorance has not just allowed but encouraged any culture of acceptance that you have seen. Are you telling me you were witness to multiple violent crimes at multiple facilities? Did you call the police in these occasions? If the answer is no then you are the culture of acceptance.

The hospital is an employer, they are not your mother, they are not the police, they are a company...that's it.

If you are a victim of violent crime, or see someone else become a victim, then it is your duty to pick up the phone and make the call to the police. Lets wear our big girl/boy pants.

Violence supersedes policy any day. Federal Law>State Law>Local Law....waaaaay down the list below the instructions on your mattress tag are facility policies.

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Daisy4RN has 20 years experience.

502 Likes; 1 Follower; 5,616 Visitors; 761 Posts

Like I said, I am glad that there are hospitals etc that do not allow the abusive/violent culture. Just because you haven't experienced a workplace like that doesn't mean that they do not exist, and its not as easy as you may think to "act", this is not ignorance. Maybe you should not judge until, as they say, you walk a mile.... I guess we agree to disagree.

Edited by Daisy4RN

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