I’ve read about hospital nurses dealing with violence at work, but I always told myself that was something that happened in the emergency room or the psych ward. In oncology, I reasoned, we have relationships with our patients, and I have always felt safe with them.
So begins a harrowing—and remarkably nonjudgmental— story of a really bad day at work, written by Theresa Brown, a nurse who blogs regularly for the NY Times. (AJN will be featuring a profile of Brown in the May issue.)
Unhappy coincidence: It so happens that AJN published a Viewpoint essay on workplace violence in the March issue. Here’s how it starts:
I was working in the ED one day when a patient looked up and threatened to kill me. Grabbing my hand, he squeezed it until I thought it would break. It took several staff members to restrain him and force him to let go. I’ll never forget how he looked into my eyes and smiled as I screamed in pain.
Some of my colleagues said I should file a police report; others told me to get used to this type of behavior and toughen up. I called the police, and although they took my statement, they wouldn’t arrest the patient because he hadn’t inflicted “serious bodily injury.”
The author, Jessica Leigh, offers advice to those who have faced workplace violence as nurses, and makes several recommendations for influencing policies at your hospital or facility, as well as for pushing for legislation to make such violence against health care workers a serious crime.—Jacob Molyneux, senior editor