The proof is in the pudding

As most of y’all know, my feelings on spanking your child is a huge no-no in my house. Absolutely not. I find that it just leads to more aggression for both parent and child and teaches the child that hitting is OK.

Case in point…

I was reading CNN.com today and a headline stuck out to me:

Bitten, shot, spat on: Violence in hospitals common for staff

Is it ever. Now, keep in mind, they focused this on Emergency Room Nurses, however, imagine, if someone is going to be that way from the get-go, imagine how they’d be 7 days into their stay.

Breaking it down:

“Hospitals are pressure cookers as people are often distressed, mentally disturbed or intoxicated by drugs or alcohol in a highly stressful environment. All of these factors pose possible dangers to health care workers.”

Yes sir, they are. Here in Pennsylvania, a lot of mental health institutes are being closed. We have had an increasing amount of mentally ill, drug addicted or alcoholic patients come to our little hospital. I can only imagine what it’s like in others.

“In an incident last week, a man broke a chair and used one of its legs to beat a 53-year-old nurse at a Valley Stream, New York, hospital. That nurse required eye surgery after suffering wounds in the head, face and neck, according to Newsday.”

Yah, for us, just last week, a patient on another floor sent three workers to the ER, dislocated an aide’s finger and caused massive scratches and abrasions on multiple nurses. It took 8 people to hold him down to give him medications. How is this fair for the staff to have to put up with this?

“A survey released last year found that more than half of emergency nurses had been spit on, pushed, scratched and verbally assaulted on the job. One in four of the nearly 3,500 emergency room nurses reported being assaulted more than 20 times in the past three years, according to results from the Emergency Nurses Association.”

How many people think that ER and Grey’s Anatomy are completely fabricated? When they come up with these story lines of people open firing at staff, becoming belligerent or people running down the hallway screaming, “SECURITY!!!” they come from somewhere. Sure, some of it is a bit over the top and such, but guess what…I have been verbally and physically assaulted in my career. So have many of my coworkers. I think it was just two weeks ago a nurse got kicked in the face on my floor.

‘”You would never go into the supermarket and say ‘the tomatoes aren’t good enough’ and punch the clerk and get away with it. That’s exactly that happens in the emergency departments all over the U.S.'”

True that. But guess what? People get away with it all the time at the hospital.

“‘But lately, in the past 10 or 15 years, that’s not the case,” Anderson said. “People are just tired of waiting, or they are just angry that they’re not getting the care they feel is acceptable. Instead of saying something, their response is hitting, screaming, spitting, yelling.'”

It’s really sick what people think is acceptable.

Health care workers have to balance their own safety and that of the patients. Hospitals have protocols for dealing with potentially dangerous patients by having several staff members or security guards to accompany employees or securing the patient so they can’t hurt others or themselves, health workers said.

Some hospitals have taken increased measures, such as the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, which implemented metal detectors. In the first six months of the screening, 33 handguns, 1,324 knives and 97 chemical sprays were confiscated, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians.

And there you go. Metal detectors. Why on earth would hospitals NOT have those? It should be standard. My job is to protect my patient. How can I do that when I don’t know if someone’s going to come in and stab us?

At my hospital, our employee entrance is open during the day, and at night and on the weekends, you have to use your badge to get in. It’s at the end of a long hallway and anyone can go in when it’s unlocked. That doesn’t seem particularly safe to me.

My feelings on  hospitals is this: they should be safe. Churches, police stations, home and hospitals should be a safe place for anyone to go to. What do you do when those places start to be unsafe? What do you do then? When I started my career as a nurse, I never imagined what would happen during the course of it. I have mentioned this before, but I’ve been kicked, spit on, punched, scratched, choked with my stethoscope, hair pulled, thumb pulled back, verbally assaulted…and it is supposed to go with the job? I only accept this when it’s a demented person or someone who is mentally ill – when it’s not in their capacity to stop themselves.

When I was kicked in the stomach when I was 5 months pregnant with Claire, I wasn’t upset at the patient, she was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and had no idea what she was doing. She was scared.

When I was told, “I’ll kill you if you come into my fucking room again,” and then had a bedside urinal full of pee thrown at me by a guy who was just pissed with life in general, I went to my boss and got him discharged and sent on his merry way. I don’t put up with that shit.

I fully understand that being a nurse means putting up with all kinds of madness, but when it’s physical violence, it just doesn’t jive with me. I’m willing to do whatever my patient needs or requests, but I have to remind people sometimes that this isn’t the Hilton, regardless what they may or may not believe. And that’s part of the problem. Society is now believing that they are the greatest thing to grace God’s green earth and with that, they should get the royal treatment where ever they go. I’m not sure why that is…

I guess that’s for another day.

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About Cassie

Two sisters from two misters. What could be more fun?

Posted on September 17, 2010, in Cassie and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. And not to mention the shooting at Johns Hopkins yesterday… I have a friend whose son is a med student there and had to be barricaded in a safe room.

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/shooting-inside-baltimores-johns-hopkins-hospital/story?id=11654462

  2. Yeah, I don’t get paid enough to be treated like that. That’s why (and a lot of nurses get annoyed with me for it), when a patient has the wherewithal to say, “no i don’t want you to stick a needle in me.” I don’t. That’s a refusal, I don’t care how crazy you say they are, if they can put that sentence together, they’ve got it together enough for my taste.
    Growing up in an abusive house and having an abusive ex, I’ve learned how to dodge very well. I’ve been almost kicked, punched, spit on, etc but I have a 6th sense and can normally see it coming. The worst I’ve had is nails drawing blood. I’m not above telling a patient that I hit back, so make it a good one.
    Did you know that we can actually be sued for repeatedly putting an IV in a patient after they repeated pull it out? Yeah, they can claim assault and battery. WTF, right?
    You’re right that our census is increasingly mental health related. We hardly ever have down times (remember just a few years ago?) and it’s almost every floor that someone is in a wheelchair right beside the charge nurse, someone is screaming blood murder from a room, and someone else is cussing out whatever medical professional is in there. It’s dangerous and I agree, it’s ridiculous that it’s acceptable behavior from those that are not mental incapacitated.
    I work this weekend. . .hopefully it’ll be all nice and calm patients that we meet.

  3. Metal detectors are fine, but there are probably plenty of things already in a hospital that would make a pretty lethal weapon. I’m suggesting tasers and tranq guns. Put them down like a charging rhino on National Geographic.

    This reminded me of my first job out of college, working in the media dept of a hospital. I was mainly a glorified AV guy, but also helped the nurses and docs with slides of xrays and graphs for their presentations. I filmed one operation and thought I would pass out. Of all the codes they would call over the PA, a code strong meant that all the biggest guys were needed to subdue a patient. Never had to do it myself, but I wasn’t there at the crazy times, either.

  4. That is horrible! Horrible! As if nurses don’t enough to put up with enough already. How scary. I agree, no job should force an employee to endure physical violence. The nerve of some people.

    I had a really positive experience with nurses the past two days though, and I thought about you. I posted on it today.

    Thank you for being a wonderful nurse!

  5. Oh my gosh, Cassie. I guess I knew, intellectually, that nurses had to deal with this sort of thing, but kicked in the stomach?!?! You’re a far more understanding and compassionate woman than I am.

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