Empowering Nurses at the Bedside and in Business

The Fallout Of Violence Against Nurses

In 2018, Tina Suckow, LPN, a nurse for over 30 years, had been working at a mental health hospital in Iowa for the four previous years.  One day, patient became violent and she was brutally assaulted.  She was severely injured and required multiple surgeries.  After her FMLA and accrued medical leave had been exhausted, the facility fired her.  What a great message for nurses: if you don’t heal fast enough, your job is done!

In addition, workers compensation, the only remedy for Tina to cover her medical expenses, questioned whether some of Tina’s injuries were related to the assault, such as her knee surgery.  She was a member of the union but unfortunately the Iowa unions can only negotiate salary.

This result sickens me.  It is bad enough that nurses like Tina and others are subjected to violence from patients but when they are unsupported by the facility, I draw the line.  This is not right.

Tina is entitled to workers compensation but compensation damages in Iowa pay among the lowest in the nation.  Should she be unable to work again, how is she going to support herself?

Do you remember a few years ago when the Texas nurse contract EBOLA?  Same thing.  Her pay was limited based on workers compensation.  Who knows if she will return to the nursing work force while she continues to suffer the long term effects of EBOLA.

No doubt Tina also will suffer long term effects from the brutal beating she received at the hands of a patient.

Things need to change.  Facilities need to step up and protect their staff.  There was a “turtle shield” that was available to the facility that could help in their situation.  However, the staff was not trained on it.  The turtle shield is used for crisis intervention and assault management but if the staff is not trained in how to use the shield, it can’t be effective and may cause more harm to the nurse.  Proper training is essential or it can exacerbate the injury.

I’m sending my best to Tina and all other nurses who been similarly assaulted while doing their job.  And I hope we all can send a message to the facilities that should a nurse be hurt at work, she should receive her full pay and all medical care until she can return to work.  And that her job be protected. I would love to hear your thoughts below.


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