'Culture of Tolerance' Enables Violence Against Nurses, Says Hospital Administrator

By Carlton Purvis


Jefferies pointed to the shift from standard needles to safety needles in the late 80s and early 90s as an example. During that time, nurses were often victims of accidental pricks or assaults by patients involving needles.

“There was a big concern about AIDS at that time and nurses kept being stuck by needles,” he said. It took “a lot of education of hospital administration and staff,” he said, but eventually hospitals moved toward using safety needles and needles with retractable syringes.

Ken Bukowski said he remembers that time well. He was working for a company who sold safety needles. Now he serves as Allied Barton’s vice president of healthcare.

“We really need nurses to report these incidents,” Bukowski said. “We know the problem is bad, but we won’t know how big, or the severity of it, if they don’t report. And managers want to hear about the issues so they can address them.”

Bukowski said more hospitals are finding ways to make it easier to report assault incidents, which should take away some of the burden of reporting. Some are using computer software, for example. “That way, nurses don’t have to fill out a bunch of paper reports…. [Reporting electronically] also lets a hospital do trend analysis,” he said.

Mangers should also get familiar with legislation aimed at protecting hospital staff, Jefferies said.

Thirty-eight states have laws aimed at protecting nurses and healthcare workers. In New York, it’s a felony to assault a nurse, for example.

The complete results of the Emergency Department Violence Surveillance Study are posted on the ENA Web site.

photo: U.S. Army


Violence against RNs

As a psychiatric RN who rotates to the Crisis Unit (pysch ER), I cannot count the number of times I have been verbally assaulted.  If I filled out a form every time that happened I would never get my regular work done.  And, yes, I have been physically assaulted as well.  With psychiatric nursing, there is always the chance of an assault.  THe key is to observe the warning signs but sometimes the situation gets out of hand too quickly.  WIth that said, I would never do any other type of nursing.  You just have to be smart about it and leave yourself an escape route and keep your distance at times.  As for the ER, folks are usually at there worst there.  Then again, I've never been a fan of ER RNs; they're pretty full of themselves.

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