No matter what your occupation is, you should never have to worry about workplace violence. Even dangerous jobs like policing have regulations in place to prevent workers from becoming the victims of violence, but nurses shouldn’t even have to worry about violence to begin with. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality we live in.
Workplace violence is something people in a variety of occupations have faced, but nurses are especially susceptible due to the nature of working in a hospital. Just because it may seem commonplace, however, doesn’t mean you should merely accept it. The more you learn about violence against nurses, the more you can work to make sure you and other nurses don’t have to become victims of it.
Preventing Violence in the Healthcare Industry
For an industry that’s based on helping people, the healthcare field experiences a lot of violence. In fact, the healthcare industry is more prone to nonfatal workplace violence than all other industries. The nature of the industry is prone to violence from many directions. An unstable patient can become combative, or the parent of a sick child could become violently demanding when they perceive nurses as not acting fast enough. Even worse, a grieving spouse could come in with a gun after a hospital fails to save their loved one.
Whether you’re dealing with an outside threat or one of your coworkers is bullying or otherwise abusing you, you have to make sure you respond properly. Begin by ensuring that there is an adequate reporting system in place. Remember to always report instances of violence, and make sure these reports are documented in writing.
Practicing deescalation techniques can also help prepare you to prevent a potentially violent incident from spiraling out of control. Staying within the lines of sight of other workers and having panic buttons or phones nearby at all times can also help everyone stay safe and quickly request help when needed.
Emergency Room Incidents
Considering the fact that most of these incidents are caused by people in high-stress environments, it’s only natural that they’re more common in the emergency room. Whether you’re dealing with a violent patient or a distraught friend or family member, nurses can easily become the victims of assault and verbal abuse, especially when tensions are high and time is of the essence.
Emergency room incidents have become so common that many acts of violence go unreported. There’s a variety of reasons for this. Some nurses believe that these incidents are simply part of the job, while others may empathize with their victimizer and see no benefit from reporting the incident. Others may worry that an angry patient or person acting out against them is an indication of poor job performance that could be used against them. None of these rationalizations excuse violence. No matter what the situation, violence against nurses is never warranted. Should violence occur, remember to deescalate and seek help immediately, and never hesitate to report it.
Violence Against Home Care Nurses
Being a home care nurse removes the hospital from the equation, but it does not remove the threat of violence. You still need to be on alert to make sure you’re not a victim of abuse. A patient’s home and their neighborhood is still a workplace, so you have a reasonable expectation not to be bullied or hurt while on the job. The first thing you should always do is trust your intuition and get out if a situation feels unsafe, but there are more concrete actions you can take as well.
Consider how well-lit the area is at night, and think about how far you have to walk alone from where you park to the patient’s home. You should also consider whether or not the neighborhood is prone to criminal activity. Become familiar with signs of drug use and threatening body language. Some home care nurses even have an emergency alert button on their ID badge they can press when they need help.
Finding a Safe Career in Nursing
If you’re a nurse, you shouldn’t have to worry about workplace violence. Unfortunately, it’s an undeniable reality of the job, despite the fact that numerous pieces of legislation either have been or are in the process of being passed that make violence against nurses a felony offense.
Whether you’re looking to find a new, safer place to work or are trying to find your first nursing job, TheraEx Staffing Services is happy to help. Contact us today to learn more.