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Self-Defense for Nurses

Self-Defense for Nurses

Marijke Durning | Scrubs Magazine

November 12, 2010

Violence at work

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in the year 2000, “health service workers overall had an incidence rate of 9.3 for injuries [per 10,000 full-time workers] resulting from assaults and violent acts. The rate for social service workers was 15, and for nursing and personal care facility workers, 25. This compares to an overall private sector injury rate of 2.”

Some of the contributing factors to workplace attacks on nurses include:

• Easy availability of weapons
• Presence of drugs and valuables in the hospital
• Long waits in emergency rooms
• Low levels of staffing
• Insufficient security measures (broken no locks, few security guards)
• Poorly lit parking lots

Also, as saddening as it is to think of, workplace violence isn’t always from a patient, relative or criminal off the street. It’s sometimes peer to peer.

If you think your workplace is unsafe

There is never a good excuse to attack a nurse, regardless of how much pain someone is in or how long he has been waiting. Unfortunately, violence still happens. Today’s world of self-entitlement and instant gratification doesn’t help matters. And while violence is possible anywhere in the hospital system, emergency room nurses are at the forefront.

If you think your workplace is unsafe, it’s time to take action. The first step is to approach administration about instituting a no-violence policy, with the rules and expectations posted throughout the facility for everyone—staff and visitors—to see. If there is already a no-violence policy, it should be renewed, updated and—again—posted for everyone.

Steps to take for your own safety involve common sense and listening to your gut. If you’re in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, here are some tips:

  • Report all incidents that you feel could have led to violence, even if they did not end violently.
  • Try not to have anyone between you and the doorway or any escape route.
  • Don’t turn your back on someone you are concerned about.
  • Don’t escalate the situation by engaging in an argument. It’s better to be alive than right.
  • If you have a hospital phone or cell phone, keep it in your hand.
  • If you must go into a patient’s room or an area where you don’t feel comfortable, have someone accompany you.

Next: If You’re Attacked >>


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