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One-Third of Nurses Report Physical Abuse by Patients

One-Third of Nurses Report Physical Abuse by Patients

The Canadian Press

April 22, 2009

TORONTO – A Statistics Canada study suggests that one-third of nurses working in hospitals or long-term care facilities were physically abused by patients in a one-year period.

It’s the first national survey of its kind, involving questionnaires that were filled in by 12,200 nurses across the country in 2005.

Forty-seven per cent of the nurses reported they had been emotionally abused by patients in the previous year, and the figure jumped to 70 per cent among nurses working in psychiatry and mental health.

Kathryn Wilkins, one of the authors of the study, says they found factors in the workplace related to violence.

Poll: Have you ever been abused by a patient?

She says nurses who perceived a shortage of personnel, and a low level of support from their supervisor and colleagues, were more likely to report physical violence within the past year from patients.

“We also noted that female nurses were less likely to have reported violence than male nurses were, keeping in mind that male nurses comprise a very small percentage of all nurses, about six per cent,” she said.

“Still they were more likely to have experienced violence from patients.”

Wilkins said this study didn’t explore the reasons for this, but previous studies have. Those studies found that male nurses are more frequently placed in a position of handling agitated patients, or they jump to the protection of female nurses who are in danger of being assaulted, she said.

“So in fact, it’s probably a question of exposure. They’re exposed to more risk.”

Related:

Hospital Workers Complain of Unsafe Conditions


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    ninelives

    over 4 years ago

    922 comments

    "Years ago, my staff and I were working at a LTC facility,assisting a resident into bed,who needed
    to be washed;**making a long story short, He fracture my wrist,during a heightened anxiety attack.
    Recieving workman's comp and time off to recuperate was fine,however, the Head Nurse stated,
    "THE STAFF NEED TO KNOW NOT TO AGITATE THE PATIENT",( That's moral support,eh.)

  • Iuscollage_max50

    MsBeckieRN

    over 4 years ago

    14 comments

    Stating that nurses should just accept this as part of the job is like telling a beaten wife that she should accept domestic abuse as part of marriage. Protocols in institutions should be stricter. Safety first. The integrity of the institution depends on a safe environment for both patients and staff.
    Administrations making excuses and ignoring this problem is unacceptable. Nurses and interdisciplinary staff members are the bread and butter of the institution. Not the pencil pushers.

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    vickielee1970

    over 4 years ago

    806 comments

    Started off my shift last week with a pop in the jaw from a patient. The reaction of administration was to be concerned that the patient felt bad and was worried about me later in the week. Yeah right. He gets sympathy and I get looked at as a potential problem. No one will do anything until like someone else said an administrator or DON get hit.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    e83d00

    over 4 years ago

    2 comments

    oh my i never thought this would be a topic..but i tell you this is almost an everyday thing...i always wonder if are pt are in their right mind how come they can get away with this..its not fair...at 1 point enough is enough when do are rights starts..when can we say i dont have to go through this anymore...i understand ppl with sickness i feel for them and i know they wouldnt do it if they really knew..but for the ppl who do...why can they get away with it

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    BarbieNurse

    over 4 years ago

    16 comments

    I forgot to mention that the facility moved the helpless patient out of the room of the other resident. It seems like the police should be called on non-confused violent residents.

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    BarbieNurse

    over 4 years ago

    16 comments

    I'm surprised the numbe of abuse reported is so low. Perhaps it depends on the setting the nurses work in. I imagine it's mostly unreported because violent behavior is expected from confused patients. However, I would say that there are a lot of patients who are not confused and know exactly what they are doing. Nothing gets done about it either, administration doesn't care if you get beat, spit on, etc. I was told by an admin that I knew this would happen when I went into nursing. No I didn't. I was 16 when I went into nursing school as part of a high school vocational training program. No one is going to tell you this, who would sign up. And you're not allowed to defend yourself as this is abusive. You can' t win. There are also a lot of mean, not confused, but just plain mean people who will attack other residents. On many occasion I witnessed a "sweet old lady" or man stick their leg out in the path of an confused but otherwise harmless patient who was wandering the hallways. I'd stop them and their excuse would always be "I don't want them in my room" even though the patient wasn't going into their room. The facility gets held accountable for their behavior and the patient comes out Scott free. The most severe case of this I remember was when a resident was caught trying to pour water down another patients trach because she didn't like the noise it was making. That poor patient couldn't talk out loud or even access her call light. The facility kept raising the rates of the offender until she was priced out of the facility. That is how they finally solved that problem. Sad isn't it. I wonder if there has ever been a study done on this? After I got out of long term care and went into private duty it was totally different. The agencies I worked for had a zero tolerance policy for this behavior.

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    Suzanne2010

    about 5 years ago

    24 comments

    While I realize many of these patients are under the influence of medications or may be confused or afraid (esp. the elderly) that does not excuse the relatives' behavior. Are we not allowed to press charges? I would never let something like that go without a big stink.

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    raymoss1

    over 5 years ago

    220 comments

    I have seen many of my cowrkers hit and spit at. Verbally abused by the residents and their families. I to have been hit, spit at etc. There is no back up from the administration. They just ignore you. The only time there is something done about the abuse is when the DON herself gets smacked. Nurses are only a body to the administration. Nothing is going to change until the adminstratin backs up their nurses. Abuse should not be tolerated.

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    Account Removed

    over 5 years ago

    It's very sad- I am sure this turns away a lot potential nursing students or qualified nurses for LTC.

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    apres

    over 5 years ago

    2 comments

    I see physical abuse everyday where I work. Noone seems to care either. The patient and their families are always right. It doesn't matter if they spit on you, hit you, pinch you till you bruise, you're told, if you don't like it you can find employment elsewhere. I'm personally fed up.
    LPN in longterm care

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