strangled by ETOH pt (long rant)

Nurses General Nursing


Had pt nasty actively hallucinating, on ETOH protocal who was restrained x4 grab my stethoscope (stupidly around my neck). He yelled he wanted to go home while he choke me with it. I had enough breath to yell out, "let go of my scope or I'll punch you in the face so hard you will go your maker" It startled him enough to let me go. (not my finest nursing communication moment, didn't really care if its not proper. I enjoy living too much, just came out of my mouth without thought). Pt immediately started to pull on his central line! Now I'm trying to secure the line and call for help. Can't reach the call button. Thank God an unknown employee was in the hallway and heard my call for help and called a code. This guys hands were turning BLUE as he was pulling against the restraints so hard. On one hand I really wanted to punch his lights out, but on the other hand I didn't want him to hurt himself either. What kind of bizard thought process is that? The team got everything under control. When I came into work the next day I noticed a new pt in his room. I went "Thank you Jesus" out loud for all to hear. Then I asked, "Did they warn them upstairs?" Later that night, still restrained, he assaulted another nurse! Through talking with staff, I found out this pt is a frequent abusive flyer. As the days go by I have become ANGRY about this situation. My job as nurse is not to support psychotic drug abusing alcoholics. I give them respect and dignitiy they deserve, but in this pts case he can rot in peace for all I care. This is the first time in my life I've actually said, "he is life unworthy of life". As soon as it came out of my mouth, I was ashamed, but there it was. I'm one ticked off nurse. I've already refused to wear anything around my neck or wear my hair down. I've prayer for God to take my anger, but it just seems to be getting worse. As we were leaving...a nurse on my floor got kicked in the face by a different pt when she was emptying a guessed it another hallucinating drunk wigged out.


8,343 Posts

Have you any vacation time coming soon? If that's out how about some stress leave to reconsider ur future in that worksite.

I mean this kindly. You need a break. We just have to figure out how to get you some paid time off.

Good Luck and stay safe.


70 Posts

lovely - reminds me of every reason why I left hospital nursing.

be careful out there

canoehead, BSN, RN

6,856 Posts

Specializes in ER.

My vote would have been to let him pull everything out and then wait for him to pass out so you could clean it up,, and save his useless life, in safety.

kae rn

50 Posts

I deal with this kind of patient frequently in rehab, not drug/alchol rehab, physical rehab. Medicate as soon as it is safe. Always be between the patient and the door. Yell really loud if needed. Usually I can talk a patient down, lots of psych nursing which I hated in school. I know alot of my patients have the potential to be frequent flyers, but until the funding for drug/alcohol rehab is increased, then this is what we will have to deal with. I know that I go to work everyday and want to do my best. I refuse to lose!

TracyB,RN, RN

646 Posts

Specializes in jack of all trades, master of none.

Just another FINE example of how nurses are expected to continually work with too many patients & not enough help!!!!!!!!

Nurse Ratched, RN

2,149 Posts

Specializes in Geriatrics/Oncology/Psych/College Health.
Have you any vacation time coming soon? If that's out how about some stress leave to reconsider ur future in that worksite.

I mean this kindly. You need a break. We just have to figure out how to get you some paid time off.

Good Luck and stay safe.

Couldn't agree more. I couldn't work psych fulltime again. Can't imagine what state of mind I'd be in if I was. PLEASE consider looking elsewhere in your facility or taking a little break if that's an option. A number of the nurses on my unit (a medical psychiatric unit with lots o' detoxers) work part time there and part time in other areas because it's just too stressful to be there day in and day out.


187 Posts

I work on a cardiac unit. This pt was in ICU then transferred to my floor then to med surg. I'm feeling much better today. I've had four days off and they came at a perfect time. However, this type of pt will come back. I will request a ETOH/Psy pt break this week if possible. It seems like they come in droves and all of us nurses have our hands full. I've only been a nurse since March of this year, but I'm beginning to see why we leave our profession. Psch pts have the right to attack us and there is nothing protecting me except me. If I let my guard down, I'm doomed.


4,516 Posts

I can relate only too well to what you describe, VHope and your anger.

I've worked critical care for 15 plus years and seems we always have a few in the unit at once...and it gets worse towards the holidays. If I cannot get the doc to order sedation, I can't get family to assist, I will even assist/encourage AMA if possible. I also try to get them OUT of ICU ASAP cuz the floors will generally qualify for a sitter. We don't have a psych/detox hospital in my parts so the ICU's get them all. :(

I do understand your anger...seems like we're sitting ducks for this type. The only times I've been hurt on the job its been patients like this, and I learned the hard way myself trying to protect one like this...he was kicking the shyt out of a coworker and trying to pull his chest tube. I'm the one who ended up with a strained back (which the hospital refused to treat through WC of course)

Tell yourself over and over: there is no reason you need to put yourself at risk with these types. Think through carefully before approaching combative patients, don't just react. I had to teach myself this. I no longer do things 'just because the doctor/administrator tells me its my job.' They won't care if you're disabled and cannot support your family believe me.

You take care of yourself, take some time off if possible (((HUGS)))


20,964 Posts

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis.

(((Hugs))) I have nothing wise to say here. I am just sorry this happened to you.


14,633 Posts

Sound like your docs are not managing detoxification v. effectively, if patients are frequently that agitated and combative ... Perhaps the team could work on more aggressive detox protocols.

Nurse Ratched, RN

2,149 Posts

Specializes in Geriatrics/Oncology/Psych/College Health.

Excellent point, Elkpark. Sounds like someone needs a little more Vitamin A(tivan) ;).

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