Lateral and patient/family on nurse abuse has gotten so out of control that in the news we are reading more and more nurses are committing suicide. We need to really help ourselves as nurses, through education and helping one another or the violence is only going to get worse. Some may agree with what I am about to say, others may really get offended, but as nurses, we need to hold ourselves accountable and fix what we can with this mess we are in. Legislation is what we also need for increased security and mandate hospitals to provide protections, but also education to keep us safe. My goal is to help nurses through education and to hopefully prevent another injury.
So let’s be objective, shall we?
Here is a scenario:
Nurses suffer an enormous amount of abuse —> Nurse has her 5th admission for the day—> Nurse cannot eat or go to the bathroom as they are slammed! —> Nurse files a report about the verbal or physical abuse —> Nurse Manager starts writing the reporter up for things they did wrong —> Reporting Nurse tries to recoup and stops reporting —> Nurse still has not had a break since she started the shift, even yesterday for that matter! —> Nurse sneaks to the bathroom —> Nurse is being paged, bed 8 is screaming —> Patient is punching the nurses’ aid —> Nurse tries to stop the battery, blocks the CNA and gets hit.
…How would you feel? Pleasant? Hardly! Definitely defeated, upset, feeling like you could do more, what did you do, and in pain but afraid to report it because you know that you are under a magnifying glass. Face it, we are human too and have a tough job without a moment or a day to recover, we are forced to get back up and keep going. If the nurse is needing help and asks for help, will she get it? Probably not because all the other nurses are busting tail just as much as the nurse that needs help!
Will the nurse manager step in? Maybe or maybe not, depends on how their boss views teamwork and patient care. If the nurse manager calls into her meeting, will the DON or administration be forgiving? Wait…she just wrote the nurse up, no way is that nurse going to her! The patient is #1 but also, what about the nurse? Staffing is bad, patients are mean, the staff is grouchy, bed 8 just clocked her in the head…and this has the other 6 patients to care for. Smile and keep going is the current culture of nursing and we are losing nurses just as fast as gaining them to an already struggling profession.
As a side note, I decided to look into how much education there is on acute mental illness, addiction in nursing school. Barely any. The Florida professional and practical nurse frameworks have minimal requirements for mental illness and substance abuse. Is there a de-escalation program offered to nurses on med/surg? Probably not! Injuries are not being reported due to retaliation and accepted as “a part of the job” and “nobody will do anything anyway”. So being that nurses are in fact human beings, the nurse may indirectly start behaving like an abuser. Yes…I know I am about to get blacklisted from the unapproving reader but really think about it. How much abuse can 1 person take?
Is this nurse going to be happy or mean? I would have to say appearing to be quite kind and happy but the underlying personal family history and built up pressures or abuse, maybe not. This nurse may be having increased anxiety progressing toward burn-out and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some may call it compassion fatigue, to me, that sounds like another fancy name to cover up a huge problem in nursing. Police and first responders get more recovery time than a nurse! The nurse calls off, the floor is short, no fill-in for their spot….so nurses have increased their patient load by 1 patient. Will they be happy? Probably not. Will there be increase patient errors? Unfortunately yes, it puts the patient and nurse at risk.
Education is power and the elimination of violence in the workplace.