Every workplace has certain dangers that employers need to protect workers against. In hospitals, nurses have to contend with the same dangers as practically anyone else, including slip and falls and exposure to dangerous substances. However, a report from The Atlantic found that nurses are much more likely than other professions to experience violence.
This violence most often comes from the patients themselves. There have been instances of patients kicking, grabbing or even scratching their nurses. Sadly, there have even been cases of nurses dying at the hands of patients. Death is certainly an extreme scenario, but it shocks the senses to look at the kind of dangers health care professionals expose themselves to regularly.
Which patients are most likely to cause harm?
Elderly patients experiencing Alzheimer’s or dementia are likely to pose a danger to themselves and to their nurses. Additionally, patients who take drugs can be a significant threat. The number of nurses who experienced some kind of abuse in the workplace is truly staggering. In one survey of 700 nurses, around 76 percent of them said they had experienced verbal or physical abuse from a patient.
What causes the violence?
One explanation for violence against nurses could relate to finances. Due to state and federal budget cuts, many people with mental disorders attempt to get help from a regular hospital. The nurses here are generally ill-equipped to deal with these types of patients. One wrong action or phrase could send a person with psychiatric problems over the edge into violent territory.
What can nurses do?
Nurses often worry about retaliation from their superiors. That is why many fail to report violent incidents to their bosses. However, it is important to always remain open and upfront to an employer when a patient is dangerous. There is also the perception that violence against nurses is normal because they deal with such unruly individuals every day. However, violence is never normal, and they have the right to take action when a patient gets out of line.