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Violence is Not "Just Part of the Job"

Nurses Article   (2,087 Views 6 Replies 609 Words)
by borkowskikid borkowskikid (Member)

borkowskikid has 5 years experience and specializes in Intensive Care and Perianesthesia Care.

1 Article; 2,407 Profile Views; 53 Posts

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As Healthcare Violence garners the attention it deserves, as Nurses we're called upon to grapple the increasingly complex boundary between providing quality care and increasing workplace safety.

Violence is Not "Just Part of the Job"

“I’m gonna kill you” Is what he said just before grabbing Ashley Schade’s neck with both hands during her shift in a Washington ICU. She detailed the event in a social media post: “having a strong individual’s hands around your neck, the inability to breathe, let alone call for help, to the point where you can’t see a thing and can only hear an emergency “staff assist” tone going off, is one of the absolutely gut-wrenching, most terrifying feelings anyone could ever imagine”

How Much is Too Much?

Although Ashley’s encounter was extreme, violence against healthcare workers happens all too often. A 2001 study by the Department of Justice found that out of all workers across all industries 16.6 per 1,000 were the victims of violent acts, compared to 21.9 per 1000 nurses. Furthermore, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 75% of nearly 25,000 workplace assaults reported annually occurred in the healthcare and social services settings.

The statistics are staggering, especially when you take into account that violence in healthcare is often under reported, as most healthcare workers contribute violent acts to “just being part of the job”. In some circumstances, nurses and assistive personnel forgo reporting such incidents all together in fear of negatively affecting Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) scores, however most facilities lack a formal reporting protocol to do so.

We’re Here to Heal, So Why all the Violence?

Its safe to assume that the vast majority of nurses did not get into the field out of a desire to fight people, so why all the fighting? A study performed by the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) detailed contributing factors of healthcare associated violence in emergency departments across the nation. Most factors were directly related to patient conditions such as an increase in the prevalence of mental health disorders and patients or their family being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, while other factors were related to facility shortfalls like under staffing and the lack of safe visitor policies.

What Can We Do About It?

While a large portion of workplace violence in the healthcare setting stems from factors which are difficult to control for, there are measures we can take to increase safety for nurses and other healthcare personnel, and arguably the most important is awareness. As the phenomenon of healthcare violence gains public attention, more and more nurses and other healthcare professionals are becoming vocal and sharing their experiences, most notably through the trending hashtag #silentnomore often broadcasted by popular social media personalities such as “ZDoggMd”.

While awareness may be necessary for change, understanding is how solutions are made. The lack of effective reporting protocols in facilities across the U.S. may potentially be the largest inhibitor of increased workplace safety. How can we possibly solve the problem when we don’t fully understand it? Furthermore, in order for reporting tools to collect accurate and useful data, nurses must be encouraged or inspired to report the incidents in the first place. That is why the notion that violence is “just part of the job” is so dangerous and counter to what we pledged as nurses: to do all in our power to maintain and elevate the standard of our profession.

So, while we continue to be healers and provide exceptional care to our patients despite what they may say or do to us, it is of utmost importance for the sake of safety and the progress of our profession, to maintain the belief that violence is not okay, no matter what. 

1 Article; 2,407 Profile Views; 53 Posts

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Hoosier_RN has 20 years experience as a MSN and specializes in LTC, home health, hospice, ICU, ER, dialysis.

1,375 Posts; 2,775 Profile Views

Most find that the problem lies with employers.  Fear of reprisal when reporting, and it does happen.  It began with the satisfaction surveys, that allow patients to walk all over us, that are used for reimbursement, as opposed to metrics of return to best function able. Administrators are afraid of losing $$ if they make a patient/family member upset, as opposed to protecting staff. 

In 2010, I was beaten by a patient who was coming down off meth, to the point that I was sent to the ER for fear he had broken my jaw (luckily, no).  Our CNO called me the next day and demanded that write an apology letter for upsetting him--I had only told him that I needed to disconnect his pain pump while he went out to smoke, which was a no-no too, he went ballistic and beat me to a pulp while security stood and watched.  This same patient had been caught trying to steal a pain pump the month prior from a supply closet and got mad when he found it wasn't loaded, and became belligerent with staff...the only letter I wrote was my resignation.  I've never worked in a hospital since...

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Hoosier_RN has 20 years experience as a MSN and specializes in LTC, home health, hospice, ICU, ER, dialysis.

1,375 Posts; 2,775 Profile Views

I want to add to my PP, that the year before, the same CNO wanted me to write an apology letter to someone (family member) who wanted sodas for pt and family while I was literally doing compressions during a code, and got mad and gave a bad score because I yelled at someone to get him out of the room...it's these administrators that are giving the entitled attitudes to pts that allow them to think we are punching bags

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SmilingBluEyes has 20 years experience.

19,552 Posts; 64,928 Profile Views

I am pretty darn sick of learning how to "de-escalate" the situation. Situations like this are already escalated too fast. Employers who do nothing or worse, punish the employee harmed----- need to be prosecuted, along with the offender. ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH already!!! Stop putting it all on us. Enough with guilting, shaming, causing PTSD and contributing to the further harm to the employee attacked. Enough is enough

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SmilingBluEyes has 20 years experience.

19,552 Posts; 64,928 Profile Views

And I am with ZDogg be #silentnomore.

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jodyangel is a RN and specializes in L&D.

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Yes! #silentnomore

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We as Nurses are NOT protected by any one entity. It allows the Hospitals to treat us like we just don't matter. They are more concerned about the patient then the Nurses who are harmed. There is absolutely nowhere for Nurses to turn to when these issues arise. Hospitals are never held accountable and retaliation is huge. So that silences a lot of us. Until this changes the abuse will continue and the Nurses will continue to leave the bedside.

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