Friday, July 13, 2007

Violence in the (Hospital) Workplace

From CNN

BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Nurses understand that they have a tough job, but getting attacked and abused is not what former Boston area emergency room nurse Ellen MacInnis says she signed up for.

"It was very frightening," said the 18-year veteran. An angry and frustrated patient had grabbed MacInnis' hand, dug her nails in and made a chilling threat. "If you have children, I'll find them and I'll kill them."

This was not the only time MacInnis was assaulted on the job. Last summer, an intoxicated, H.I.V.-infected female patient tried to hit her and wound up covering her in blood.

MacInnis said the thought that her life was in danger never occurred to her until after the situation was under control. "Then it sort of hit me," she said, "And I fell apart."

Nurses are often on the receiving end of physical assaults, because they are typically the first and most frequent medical personnel by the bedside of ill and sometimes angry or frustrated patients.

Emergency rooms seem to be the hot spots for violent assaults, according to experts interviewed for this article, but general practice nurses are not immune.

Fifty percent of nurses surveyed by the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) -- a union of registered nurses -- and the University of Massachusetts said they had been punched at least once in a two-year period. Some reported being strangled, sexually assaulted or stuck with contaminated needles.


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