Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day

1, Jul 9, 2010

The Risk of Nursing Career

Filed under: Crime — admin @ 12:24 am

On July 8, 2010, I read with a shudder an article on rising violence against nurses in the U.S. This is the first time both my daughter and I read news on this topic. Needlessly to say, we were more than shocked going through case after case of violence in healthcare. “A 2009 workplace violence survey found that nearly half of all non-fatal assaults in the United States were caused by health care patients.” “According to the U.S. Department of Justice, about 500,000 nurses are victims of violent crimes each year; they are commonly subjected to being spit on, kicked, punched, and threatened.”

Rita Anderson, a 115-pound woman in her early 50s, an assistant manager of a New York hospital, was helping a 16-year-old, 300-pound female patient to use a bed pan. When she leaned over to lower the rails, “out of nowhere came a blinding punch to Anderson’s jaw,” breaking her jaw. Later, the girl said, “I’m sorry, but I was just tired of waiting.” Tired of waiting? Breaking the nurse’s jaw? It took Anderson 8 weeks to recover and eight week of lost work days.

Pontus recalls an instance when a nurse was walking by a patient’s room, who was calling for help with his urinal pan. As the nurse went to help him, “he smashed the pan on her head.” In another case, a nurse wastreating a patient who had just awoken from surgery, “the patient bit the nurse’s hand so hard the ligament was torn off the bone.”

Nurses working at the ER and the psychiatric units are the most unfortunate ones of all. Very often police who find people under the influence of drugs or alcohol drop them off at the ER. This is called “dump syndrome” which involves more than normal dose of violence. The increase in severity and frequency of violence is directly related to the growing number of police ER dumpings.

Here are some figures:
59% of health care worker injuries from 1995 to 2004 were caused by patients.
48% of all non-fatal assaults in the U.S are caused by patients
50% of Massachusetts nurses have been at least punched within the last two years
72% of ER nurses reported feeling unsafe in their workplace

I would expect 100% of ER nurses feeling unsafe. As many hospitals face the severe situation of nurse shortage, it is very likely that patients have to wait longer and act out their impatience violently. This is something to factor in when you consider jumping into the lofty career of saving lives.

P.S. on 7/5/2010, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick signed a law that will stiffen the penalties for those who assault nurses and other health care workers. The vote follows unanimous votes to approve the measure in both houses of the legislature.

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