Nursing Voices

Monday, August 14, 2006

The War Against Nurses


  • Salon.com The War Against Nurses by Diana Reiss-Koncar


  • In 2001, Salon.com published "The War Against Nurses" by Diana Reiss-Koncar. According to the article, assaults on R.N.s are at an all-time high, and nurses who complain or seek help risk loosing their jobs. Since its publication, and the publication of countless other articles on the subject, little has been done to protect nurses from assault in health care facilities, and hospitals continue to blame the victims of assault.

    I’ve been attacked many times over the years at work, and each time my employer would ask, “What could you have done differently to prevent the attack?” The last time I was attacked, I became angry when my boss asked me that moronic question, but instead of sulking, I took action. I filed charges against my patient. Eventually, the person was found guilty of second-degree assault, and sentenced to ten years in jail and was fined $25,000. During the process, I educated a judge about workplace violence at my hospital, and since then, several local nurses have taken abusive patients to court.


    Have you ever been assaulted at work? How did your employer respond to the attack?

    3 Comments:

    Blogger Angry Angel said...

    Well, I'm a LTC nurse and it seems to come with the territory. In my state we have strict guidlines as to what constitutes abuse and neglect of our residents (legal term for patients in LTC.)

    However NOTHING is there for nursing personel protection. I currently have bruises on both breasts. They are from a new resident that I fondly call the Mammogram Man. He's a grabber. He also isn't in control of himself. Now if I restrain him in anyway I am guilty of abuse. If I fail to perform treatments because I am afraid of being injured I am guilty of abuse. So I do my job and pray that I don't have bruises when it is time for a physical.

    I have actually had my PCP check on me for being in an abusive relationship because I have had so many bruises on me.

    At one time a resident attacked a CNA. He came up behind her (a locked dementia unit where she was the only staff member at the time)and used a coat hanger and a tie to attempt to strangle her. She had her cell phone on and hit redial to call the facility to get help. She was told NOT to press charges.

    Later that same night during a code (staffing 4 nurses and 10 CNAs for 150 beds). On the way to retrieve an O2 concentrator anthor nurse found him (he had been giving meds and thought safely asleep) beating another demented resident in the head with a can of shaving cream. He was sent to the hospital and even though he and the other resident were in bed next to each other where the other resident recieved over 10 stitches, he was deemed "just confused" and "not dangerous to himself or others."

    I have had residents expose their genitals to me. I have been cornered and "felt up" by demented residents. I was punched in the stomach by a psychotic but not demented resident while I was pregnant. She said in front of witnesses something to the effect that she knew what she was doing and hoped she hurt the baby. When I called 911 I told them that she was either going to undergo a 72 pysch eval or I was pressing charges. She was admitted to a long term pysch facility the last I heard.

    I have been cursed at. I have been called a Nazi (I'm of jewish decent and my husband is gypsy).

    As far as employer responses...well it is pretty much "this is the way it is" "this is their home" "If you don't like it leave"

    It's not real encouraging. But I also was attacked in acute care by a patient...and I had a doctor throw a small table at me. I was dicouraged from following through with that...and being relatively green I didn't. He and I did have a little talk and he never acted that way again around me. His defense was that he wasn't throwing it at me...but was just throwing it...HELLO he was in front of his patient having a temper tantrum. Now that really inspires confidence.

    So yeah it happens...and I'm not the only person I know who has been treated like this...CNAs, nurses, techs, phlebotomists...you name I have seen or heard of them being assaulted. And largly it is swept under the rug.

    I love being a nurse. And I probably have 100 postive stories for each bad one. And for the most part if one of my patients is demented, I really can't hold it against them. It's the alert and orianted ones that are really just nasty individuals that I dislike.

    3:39 PM  
    Blogger Mother Jones RN said...

    Thank you for sharing your story with me. There is a reason for the nursing shortage, it's the job.

    5:35 PM  
    Blogger Grabi said...

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    9:48 AM  

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