Assaults On Nurses Come From Surprising Source
When we first started doing research on assaults against nurses, our thinking was initially that most assaults would occur outside the hospital. To our dismay we discovered that is not the case. Assaults against nurses are perpetrated by patients and their families and in alarmingly high numbers.
In this article from Vancouver, British Columbia the nurses’ union president said that nurses are Assaulted Daily because the system is so strained that patients and their families lose their tempers. Workplace violence claims have risen to nearly 1,000 in 2013.
At Abbotsford Regional Hospital, according to this story Nurses Are Attacked on a regular basis, so much so that the union has been asking for increased security since 2011 and dedicated security in their ER where most assault events take place.
According to the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) Ten Code Whites Per Day are issued for aggressive patients. A code white is announced over the hospital PA system that alerts everyone to a potentially violent situation involving a nurse patient relationship.
WorkSafeBC is British Columbia’s Workmen’s Comp. organization. Over a period of seven years from 2005-2012 over 3700 healthcare workers were reported injured on the job-that is an average of one per day. Over the same period of time the law enforcement community, by comparison, only saw 241 workers injured-a fraction of the healthcare segment.
They note that most injuries occur in emergency rooms and psychiatric wards. Many organizations do not have the required plan to deal with a patient who is known to be a risk which has led to fines for the hospital.
In the United States things are not much better. In this article from the Boston Herald recently about non-lethal defense devices for Hospital Staff because “all hospitals say they are seeing more violence. It’s certainly a trend across health care.” To back up that shocking claim an International Healthcare Security and Safety Foundation report shows that Violent crime in U.S. hospitals increased by 25 percent from 2012 to 2013 and disorderly conduct has increased by 40 percent over the same time period.
Some hospitals have taken to putting a color-coded dot on patient identification bracelets to earmark them as dangerous or potentially dangerous. Unfortunately, that system has plenty of flaws and is generally overlooked.
The idea of arming nurses and other support personnel with pepper sprays meets with a lot of pushback and for good reasons. Most pepper sprays can contaminate nearby innocent civilians and of course the idea of a hospital employee spraying a patient with a nonlethal self-defense product is dangerous and will not fly with hospital administrators.
In the meantime, about all that can be done is to arm nurses and support staff with loud personal alarms which may stop an assault in progress but definitely would alert nearby staff of trouble in the area.
Do you know a nurse who has been assaulted at work? Please share your experience. We want to hear your thoughts.