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Workplace Violence in Healthcare: Nurses, What is Being Done to Protect Us?

Nurses Article   (645 Views 4 Replies 869 Words)

Brenda F. Johnson has 27 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Gastrointestinal Nursing.

5 Followers; 75 Articles; 105,136 Profile Views; 259 Posts

Violence in the Workplace

Violence at work can be common in certain professions and nursing has one of the highest percentages. This article is dedicated to a young nurse who lost her life in a horrific and violent way. Her name was Carlie Beaudin, and at the age of 33, her life was taken.

Workplace Violence in Healthcare: Nurses, What is Being Done to Protect Us?

I don’t remember hearing anything about Carlie’s murder last January, but her community of nurses did. On January 25, 2019, in the parking garage of a Wisconsin hospital, Carlie was kicked in the head over 40 times and then left to die under a car in the early hours of the morning on January 25, 2019 (O’Reilly, 2019). It was so cold that her skin froze to the concrete (Harris, 2019). She left work at 1:00am, was found at 3:43am by a snow plow driver, and tragically died at 4:21am. Carlie died a slow, torturous death - Alone (O’Reilly, 2019).

As I read Carlie’s story, and how she died, it weighed heavy on my heart. I pictured someone I know falling victim to such a brutal death and my stomach squeezed so hard that it hurt. Was Carlie conscience, did she lie there thinking about her husband and family. How much pain did she suffer while her tears went unheard. 

With any act of violence, we try to rationalize it - we try to make sense of it. But the circle of thoughts that we continually play in our minds about something irrational cannot be rationalized. Nurses often are on the receiving end of abuse, and those feelings and memories stick with us forever. Not to mention our individual histories and personal experiences with abuse that we bring with us everyday. The ones that have shaped us and have developed how we respond to abuse. Any abuse - verbal, sexual, physical, or mental is immensely personal, it touches and shapes our souls. The abuser tries to steal our joy and our sense of safety, but it’s time we as nurses stop putting up with workplace violence.

According to Bankole K. Fasanya and Emmanuel A. Dada, in their article, “Workplace Violence and Safety Issues in Long-Term Medical Care Facilities: Nurses’ Perspectives”, that on a daily basis, two people are killed as a result of workplace violence, and 87 are injured (2016). This statistic covers any field of work, however,  the healthcare field takes credit for a large majority of those numbers. In fact, in the article, “Educational and Managerial Policy Making to Reduce Workplace Violence Against Nurses: An Action Research Study”, it tells that we as healthcare workers are victim of almost 74% of the abuse inflicted in the workplace (Hemati-Esmaeili, Heshmati-Nabavi, Pouresmail, Mazlom, & Reihani, 2018). 

Workplace violence can be verbal, emotional, sexual, or physical and most nurses have experienced one or more forms in the span of their career. Abuse can come from a peer, superior, doctor, patient, or family. Certain fields of nursing suffer higher incidents of abuse such as the Emergency Department, Long Term Care, and the Psychiatric wards. A large percentage of these events are not reported. The reason may be that there is a feeling that nothing can or will be done, or that there will be retribution for reporting. How can we, as nurses advocate for ourselves? We need to empower ourselves and our fellow nurses and learn what our choices are and what is being done about workplace violence. 

A bill was introduced February 19 this year by Representative Joe Courtney. He represents Connecticut in the House of Representatives since 2007. This bill - H.R. 1309 will require the Department of Labor to look into violence in the healthcare field. It is asking that requirements be set to educate healthcare workers on how to de-escalate violent situations, and recognize the signs of impending violence. Also, it asks that each incident be investigated as soon as possible in order to get the most accurate information. Nurses often do not feel comfortable or safe reporting incidents of workplace violence. They fear retribution, prejudice, or even losing their jobs. This bill will allow them to report concerns and events privately and without punishment.

What can we do?

Contact your state Representatives and Congressmen/women and ask them to support this bill. Tell them that is is essential that something be done to protect us. If this becomes mandatory, turnover will decrease, morale will increase, and the culture of the healthcare field will greatly improve. The perception that nurses are expected to endure a certain amount of violence needs to be eliminated (Fasanya, 2016). 

Thank goodness the majority of workplace violence cases are nonfatal. But one fatal incident is too many.

Share your stories with the allnurses community.


References

Fasanya, B., & Dada, E. (2016). Workplace Violence and Safety Issues in Long Term Medical Care Facilities: Nurses’ Perspectives.  Safety and Health at Work, 7(2), 97-101. doi: 10.1016/j.shaw.2015.11.002

Harris, C. (2019). Dying Wisconsin Nurse Found Frozen to Ground was Allegedly Targeted by Former Parking Valet. People. Retrieved from https://people.com/crime/slain-wisconsin-nurse-was-allegedly-targeted-by-valet/

Hemati-Esmaeili, F., Heshmati-Nabavi, F., Pouresmail, Z., Mazlom, S., & Reihani, H. (2018). Educational ad Managerial Policy Making to Reduce Workplace Violence Against Nurses: An Action Research Study. Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, 23(6), 478-485. doi: 10.4103/ijnmr.IJMNR_77_17

O’Reilly, M. (2019). Murder and Me. Medscape Nurses. Retrieved from https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/917203

Brenda F. Johnson, BSN, RN Specialty: 25 years of experience in Gastrointestinal Nursing

5 Followers; 75 Articles; 105,136 Profile Views; 259 Posts

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SmilingBluEyes has 20 years experience.

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Nothing. Nothing is being done to protect us.

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28 Posts; 771 Profile Views

Was this actually workplace violence or a random act of violence in a parking garage? I am not trivializing what happened. I'm just trying to understand the circumstances of the incident. Like was she specifically targeted and known by her attacker through her work or was this an incident of wrong place, wrong time occurrence?

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He was a valet hired hired by a contractor for the hospital and was fired. 

Nothing is being done.  When I worked psych with forensics patients (who were there bc they committed a crime of some sort) and on the geriatric ward, what could be done was a seclusion and use of restraints.  Sometimes they’d get sent to maximum units.  For the geriatric ward, it was viewed as they’re old, demented, etc.  Nothing we could do about it.  On the other units, one could press charges.  But what did it matter if the patient was in there long term anyway?  Nurses weren’t even granted protected status like how the techs and police/EMS are.  And don’t even get me started on the verbal abuse from patients (I do triage) and some doctors as well. 

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Brenda F. Johnson has 27 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Gastrointestinal Nursing.

5 Followers; 75 Articles; 259 Posts; 105,136 Profile Views

On 10/4/2019 at 8:46 PM, old&improved said:

Was this actually workplace violence or a random act of violence in a parking garage? I am not trivializing what happened. I'm just trying to understand the circumstances of the incident. Like was she specifically targeted and known by her attacker through her work or was this an incident of wrong place, wrong time occurrence?

Yes, she was known by her attacker. I didn't put much about him. He worked as a parking valet at the garage and had recently been fired. 

Just now, Brenda F. Johnson said:

Yes, she was known by her attacker. I didn't put much about him. He worked as a parking valet at the garage and had recently been fired. Read the articles in the link, it will tell more on him. I didn't want to focus on him

 

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