Friday, July 31, 2009

Workplace Violence

Ten Out of Ten has a great post up about a sad, but all-too-true reality of working in the ED: the violent patient.

The LA Times also calls attention to this issue, reporting that 25% of ED nurses surveyed reported experiencing physical violence more than 20 times in the past 3 years, while almost 20% reported experiencing verbal abuse more than 200 times in the same period.

Just the other week we had a patient arrive tied down to an EMS stretcher.  Status post assault, his face looked like a swollen pumpkin, multiple bruises covered his body, and footprints could be clearly seen on his back.  As we transferred him over, I couldn't help but feel sorry for the kid; this was obviously the work of multiple assailants.

Yet as he fought with the staff, throwing punches while screaming obscenities and racial slurs, I could begin to imagine how he managed to incite a brawl.  For trying to hold his arm still as a nurse searched for IV access, I received two punches myself, and another when we transferred him to the CT scanner.  Like Ten out of Ten's patient, he eventually needed to be intubated for his safety and ours.

Sometimes it's a thankless job, but somebody's got to do it!

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