The Failing Culture of Safety in Healthcare
Guest blog by Sandra Risoldi MSN Ed., DNP, RN, CLNC
Some say nursing violence is a part of the job, while others refuse to believe being punched, spit-on, kicked, or verbally assaulted with insults is normal. The subtle increase in violence is affecting not only the morale of nurses and other healthcare workers but also their mental health and safety. Many healthcare workers have spoken with me about how family members and patients threaten their lives or even stalk them from the hospital to their homes. When they would call the police to file a report, their employers have asked them to do it on their own time, and off the clock. The culture of safety in organizations has failed healthcare staff on so many levels from reporting systems to protecting them when their shift ends while walking to their cars.
To add insult to injury, the healthcare worker or nurse has been shunned by other staff members after receiving an injury, whether it be through making them feel worse or guilty for having to leave to be evaluated. More times than not, the facility does not have a hearty float pool, and staffing is dwindling due to the need for sitters. More times than not, even nurses are pulled to watch patients that are in danger of hurting themselves or others. The other nurses that already have heavy patient loads are forced to take on the injured nurse’s patients, and even though they like that nurse, their patience grows thin. Someone will have the violent patient on their already exhausting patient load.
When you have the issue of the acuity not matching the patient load and is habitually occurring, nurses absorb the negative behavior and do not feel supported by the administration or the organization. After some time, it slowly wears down on the nurse and may become indirectly and directly affected. Some identifiers of personal behavior change the nurse may start to see from prolonged stress, are sleep disturbances, heightened awareness, quick temper, and may even see changes in their relationships at home. The nurse and healthcare worker need support and mentorship, especially while working with patients that are addicted and suffering from acute mental illness.
The problem of violence from patients and co-workers has mounted the increase of poor job satisfaction, with the result of high turnover rates. Employers are not only losing quality nurses but also losing money but not addressing the problem. If this makes total sense, this is what we are working on over at Nurses Against Violence Unite, Inc. a non-profit 501 c(3). It was created to give nurses an outlet to express their feelings, join together as a community, and help others that need a safe place to vent. In combination to the free service we offer, we are having a peaceful rally/march coming up August 2nd at 10 am, meeting in Freedom Plaza located in Washington, DC, aimed to End Healthcare Violence. We would love for you to come to join us! For more details about the event and what is to come, join us on Facebook #NursesAgainstViolenceUnite in the group page and experience the revolution.