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Nurses Call for Action on Rising Violence in Hospitals

October 9, 2014 0 Comments

Nurses are calling for minimum security standards and flagging of ‘problem’ patients to help minimise the rising violence in Victorian hospitals.

Over the past year, reports to the Nurses’ Union about violence in Victorian hospitals included :

  • A nurse being assaulted by a patient and left unconscious.
  • A strangled nurse who was also pushed down a corridor in a Melbourne-based hospital.
  • A nurse punched by a patient who was left concussed and had to be treated in the emergency ward.

Nurses are not the only ones who are affected by the alarming number of cases in hospital violence. According to a report, cases of doctors being punched by patients or grabbed around the neck by patient’s relatives are also common.

In a Melbourne emergency department, one doctor was even threatened with a fake gun.

Recently, an aged care psychiatric nurse came forward with her recollection of an attack by an agitated patient.

According to the nurse, “I tried to settle her down but she just launched at me. She went for my throat but got my shirt and yanked me down so I was bent halfway over. It took four staff about five minutes to get her off me.”

The nurse was fortunate that the incident happened during shift handover and other nurses were there to observe it.

Health workers are often hesitant to come forward to speak about violent attacks and concerns over violence in hospitals. This is often because they fear their coming forward may result in disciplinary action for breaching hospital policies.

Monash University recently conducted a survey with 5000 nurse participants. According to their study, almost 70% of nurses had experienced violence or aggression in the past 12 months.

Paul Gilbert, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation assistant state secretary said that nurses face violence in hospitals every day. One of the major factors contributing to this violence includes overcrowding in emergency departments and drug-affected patients.

Mr Gilbert says that the current approach to let individual hospitals manage violence in their institutions has failed and the government ought to take action on this issue.

The Union’s 10-Point Plan urges the government to enforce security standards, as well as trained security staff, equipment and duress alarms, to ensure the safety of heath workers. Also, aggressive patients should be flagged to prevent any harm coming to nurses on duty.

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