Many nurses choose to work in the emergency room because it is constantly moving and there is a lot of work to be done. For those that thrive on rushes of adrenaline in chaotic situations, the ER can be the perfect place to work. However, it is not known for being the safest department in a hospital. Many patients are rushed to the emergency room because of a violent interaction they had. Gunshot wounds, stabbings, and domestic abuse are all-too-common occurrences that bring patients into the ER.
There is also an unfortunate side effect to this. Often, the violence follows them from the point of origin to the hospital itself. Patients or family members or friends often attack nurses and other members of staff. Sometimes patients suffering from mental instability act out violently and hurt people. This happens all too often, and ER nurses usually receive the brunt of the impact. Here is one such story.
Paula was an incredible nurse. She worked in a lovely hospital where employees were happy and treated well. However, no hospitals or clinics are immune to violence in the workplace, as Paula soon discovered.
Paula had been a nurse for years. At the time of her experience, she was a grandmother, 60 years old. She had devoted much of her life to the treatment of patients. One day, after completing triage, Paula went to check on a patient. He had been giving her some trouble during triage and she was worried that he might prove to be a challenge throughout his treatment. As she entered the treatment area, she found the patient fully on top of a security guard, who was lying flat on the ground. The patient, a 23-year-old man was beating the security guard forcefully.
Without hesitation, Paula called for a stretcher and 4-point restraints in an attempt to confine the patient and stem the chaos. As other nurses arrived to help restrain the patient, he began punching and kicking wildly at whatever or whomever he could find contact with. Unfortunately for Paula, her shoulder received most of the patient’s powerful kicks. Meanwhile, the patient was shouting threats to kill all the nurses, security guards, and their families. By the time they had the patient confined to a stretcher, two security guards and three nurses had sustained serious injuries.
After the incident, all injured parties were examined by a physician in the ER, where they were promptly told to go home and rest, taking the next day as well if they needed it. Incident reports were also filled out at the hospital and police were called to take a report of everything that had happened. The hospital was informed that the district attorney would be getting in touch to help out with the inevitable court case.
Paula’s injury soon proved to be more severe than she originally thought. She saw an orthopedic specialist for help and was provided with several options for treatment, from pain medications to physical therapy. She ran the gamut of the whole medical system to find something that would work for her. Nevertheless, she was still unable to sit up straight, lie down comfortably, or sleep a whole night through. The pain persisted, no matter what she tried.
To make matters worse, her injury was so severe that she was informed that she could not return to work. Her whole career was ended due to the violence of the young patient that day. Instead, she was forced to remain at home in early retirement, while she yearned to be back at work treating patients.
In the end, Paula’s life was drastically changed. She had to tell her family what had happened to her and was unable to continue working. She was also brought into the court case that was promised by the district attorney. As a witness, she sat on the stand and told the judge everything that happened, even though it was frightening. Paula was able to do the right thing and testify against the young man, who was then put on probation with mandatory attendance in mental health meetings and a demand that he keeps taking his medications. If he failed at any of these requisites, he would go to jail. While this sounds harsh, the patient is getting the mental health treatment he desperately needs thanks to Paula’s insistence on doing the right thing and taking him to court.
Working in the ER is not for everyone. There is always the chance that outside violence will be brought in and that it could affect employees. If you work in the ER as a nurse, don’t forget to be aware of your surroundings, report any incidents, and to be cautious in your dealings with unstable patients.