I just read an artice written by Alexia Fernandez about the increase of violence against nurses in the workplace. The emphasis is not on why but instead how it is handled both by the nurse that was attacked and by administration.
In surveys that have been done it was found that frequently these attacks are not even reported by the nurse. Really? Why not? A couple of reasons emerged from this study.
The first reason had to do with the idea that this is just a part of a nurse’s job. She is expected to have to deal with unruly patients or people for whatever reasons. Nurses are discouraged from reporting these violent episodes. Patients and families and friends are under a great deal of stress and with this comes the possibilities of acting out behavior. I remember being told this when I was a young nurse. “I have to learn to deal with this. The patient does not know what he is doing due to whatever. I am the one in control and must ignore it and go on with my patient care without any negative feelings. If he was not sick and dealing with all of this he would never…….” Really? He is not responsible for his actions, and maybe in some cases it may be due to meds, etc, but if it’s not reported what happens to the next nurse.
Nurses are afraid of retaliation as well; not from the patient or family, but from nursing or hospital administration. How can that be. Are nurses so under valued even by their superiors? No wonder nurses see them selves with such low esteem and either leave their profession or want to leave. If your supervisor sees you as so unworthy how can you see your self otherwise? Supervisors, also, maintain this part of the job scenario. “You are a nurse. It’s part of the job. Is that what you expected when you went into nursing? Did you expect to be treated like this?
In the article mentioned above, a nurse was actually punished by an employer for calling 911 after a patient attacked her. This reminded me of something that happened to me when I was working in homecare. I was seeing a patient that was alcoholic and had PTSD, which probably was a result of his time in Viet Nam and all of the atrosities that happened to him while there. Anway after seeing him for over a year (I worked in the behavioral health dept). he told me that only one of us was leaving alive that night. At first I thought he was joking, but I soon realized that he meant it. As I got ready to leave he grabbed at me. Fortunately I was able to get away and ran down the stairs to the security officer at the front of the desk who called the police for me. When I reported this to my superiors the next day I was quite surprised that they made light of it and no one offered any support or counseling. We did, of course, discharge him and report it to his doctor and therapist but it was never mentioned to me again. It was as though I did not matter.
When I first went into nursing I never expected to be treated like this, but it is a reality even today and not getting any better. I guess it goes all the way back to the beginning of nursing when nurses were caring for soldiers on the battlefield. Clara Barton and these nurses were considered to be the lowest. Yes the soldiers were grateful for the care she gave them, but the nurse was considered to be low life. Unfortunately nurses still buy into this as proven by the article and survey above. Nurses are highly educated, caring people and need to treat themselves as such and be regarded by others as such.