After Patient Attack, Nurse’s Post Goes Viral

A Washington nurse's Facebook post about surviving a brutal patient attack has gone viral. Nurse Ashley Schade had been caring for a patient for three straight days for 12.5 hours a day. And then it happened. She was brutally attacked and posted a poignant, heart breaking, thought-provoking post on Facebook that has gone viral and resonated with nurses everywhere. Read her post below and then share your thoughts in the comments section below:

As many of you know, I was assaulted by a patient while at work on Sunday. A patient that I had cared for and dedicated myself to for 12.5 hours a day for three straight days prior to this. I wasn’t home with my family, or out having fun, I was doing what God called me to do, to care for those who are at their worst. Most patients in the Intensive Care Unit are unstable in many ways. Hemodynamically, emotionally, and mentally. Most of us have been hit, kicked, or pushed out of the way of a scared patient who is trying to run away. Being in the ICU, or the hospital, in general, can be a very scary thing. Mental illness is also a scary thing. I have never hated someone for the injuries I’ve experienced while they were scared or not thinking straight. I’ve never pressed criminal charges before this, because I’ve tried to put myself in their shoes and do what us nurses do best, be compassionate. But on Sunday it was my turn to be scared. Let me tell you, having a strong individual's hands around your neck, the inability to breathe, let alone call for help, to the point where you can’t see a thing and can only hear an emergency “staff assist” tone going off, is one of the absolutely gut-wrenching, most terrifying feelings anyone could ever imagine. It didn’t help that it was preceded with the words “I’m gonna kill you.” It was also followed by a confirmation that this individual was not only aware of what they had just attempted to do, but also “if anyone else comes near me I’ll kill them too” followed by a smirk. I had collapsed and was taken to the emergency department, so I wasn’t present for the arrival Law Enforcement, so I can’t speak to that. What I can speak to is the sickening feeling I got when officers came to my ER room to get my statement and inform me that they are unable to take this patient into custody. Instead, said patient gets to stay at the hospital, where my coworkers/friends/work family are forced to continue to put themselves into harms way and care for someone who just tried to murder their friend. Do you know what it feels like to know that someone who just tried to kill you isn’t even being arrested?

I’m sorry..but excuse me, when did my life become so INVALUABLE that someone can try to take it away, and not be taken into custody???

Let me ask you this, if this happened in front of you on the street, would you expect that person to get a slap on the wrist and get to continue walking down the sidewalk? How safe would you feel then? What if it was a teacher, a cashier, a police officer who was assaulted? Do you think their assailant would get to go upon their day like nothing happened, and not be arrested and taken into custody? Or should we wait and have a psychiatrist come do a mental evaluation first to decide if they should be held accountable? Should we have someone evaluated before getting arrested each time we have a domestic violence call? What if they aren’t mentally stable? As I sit here still trying to process the nightmare from Sunday, the debriefing yesterday where I saw some of the strongest nurses I know break down into sobbing tears, and the emotions that have filled me since I questioned if I was going to survive that moment or not, as I wait to hear if the Deputy Prosecutor will “be able to” file felony aggravated assault charges, I can’t help but feel angry and disappointed at how little rights we have as caregivers, and how little our lives are truly valued. I know the bruises, the sore muscles, and the loss of my zest for life will take time to heal, and I can accept that. I’m not only hoping and praying for healing for myself and my coworkers, but for some kind of CHANGE in how sexual harassment and physical and verbal abuse in healthcare is handled and tolerated.

I’m putting this out there to bring awareness of what is happening in hospitals. Not just in big cities, but right here. Just because you are in the hospital does NOT MEAN THERE ARE NO LAWS AND NO MORAL RESPONSIBILITY. It is not a stupid series of movies where you get a free pass to be an asshole for a specified amount of time. ITS REAL LIFE. You cannot strangle people. You cannot sexually harass people. You cannot hit, kick, bite, scratch, spit on, or call people names. And by people I mean those folks who sacrifice time with their families, their bladders, and their SANITY to care for you in every single way. IT IS NOT OKAY.

Nurses are fueled on compassion, because Lord knows we don’t get lunch breaks and the money is nothing compared to what we have to deal with. I can guarantee you that there are at least 8 amazing nurses and nursing staff who’s compassion for what they do has been greatly compromised from this event, and that in it’s self is tragic.

#endnurseabuse #endhealthcareabuse #notyourpunchingbag
#zerotolerance #silentnomore #ICUstrong #ERstrong #nursestrong #nurseadvocacy
#nursefamily #timetorally

That being said, THANK you from the bottom of my heart to those who have reached out and for all of the continued support. And words can never explain how grateful I am to my work family for your quick actions and unwavering support. We are a team and I love you all...we WILL make a difference so that we are safe at work. 👊🏼💔

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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JJ

First, I am so sorry to hear of the injuries you sustained from this attack from a patient. I do pray that you will recover not only physically, but mentally. I can so relate. I too have been assaulted by a patient sustained injuries and had to have surgery. I am still suffering from these injuries, as you will never be the same. I chose not to press charges as unfortunately as always we put others before ourselves. I agree more healthcare providers need to press charges and I agree our injuries should be taken more seriously by the police… Read more »

frank lomprez RN

After many years as a RN. If the Pt, is capable of an attack and is competent. Arrest them asp. I have been chocked punched etc. The police have come to facility stating that they don’t arrest the mentally ill. No they just don’t want to have to deal with the situation.

Nursedave

I unfortunately, have also been a victim of assault. First I would like to extend my deepest sympathy. Treating patients and fearing for your own and others personal safety only adds to an already anxiety fueled environment. There are Directors, Supervisors and Doctors whom would never tolerate inappropriate behavior but have no problem putting staff members in unsafe situations. It is time they become accountable.

Andean W. RN

I feel your pain. I was also attacked about 6 weeks ago by one of my mental health patients. I had a concussion, short term memory loss, loss hearing to my left ear, cervical and lumbar herniation, daily headaches, change in vision and a sprain ankle. My relationship with my spouse is even affected as I become fearful every time a male comes close to me. It is sad that we as nurses give our all to our patients and are rewarded with injuries of all forms. No professional should have to endure the suffering you were faced with. I… Read more »

Michelle Steward MSN RN

Thank you for sharing and speaking up! I remembered when I was about to get attacked by a patient who I took care of for 3 days straight. Once his pain medication dosage was reduce by the MD. He accused me of lying to the provider. He immediately stood up and got in my face. I left the room and he followed me calling my obscene names down the hallway and in front of others. The charge RN told him to go back to his room . No security or upper management was called! The patient was allowed to stay!… Read more »

Alice Meise

Your hospital/ employer has a legal/ moral duty to provide a safe working environment for all. That said, I would demand that charges be placed against said patient, no excuses. I would also contact a lawyer and sue both patient and hospital, if the hospital did not fully support me. Period! Hit everyone involved where it counts in the pocket book! If it will cost them $$$ you will get there attention! Also, was it a Hate crime against ??? Nurses??? Just saying!

Vincent Santulli

Absolutely mortified by your personal experience. Your facility does not value their staff, and all of you should leave that facility, ASAP!!!

KThompson

I am so disappointed but yet unsurprised by the lack of reaction by hospital superiors and law enforcement. Not only did you suffer immediate harm but you will have moments of paralyzing PTSD from this incident. It will never go away and our employers will just shrug it off. The only thing that should go away is the culture of no prosecution and turning and looking the other way for this behavior. Yes, we know the patients have issues but in any other setting they would have been locked up…why are our lives expendable. My standard comment in regard to… Read more »

Robert

I have been in nursing almost 20 years and have also been assaulted more than once. I am glad that you are well. You have spoken for numerous nurses and politicians and administrators need to take notice. Thank you for being a vocal majority. Robert.

Tasha

I feel your pain. A year ago I was punched in the face by my patient. I blacked out and saw stars! I never saw it coming. The daughter refused to allow her dad calming meds. This patient was noted for being combative prior to my injury. I’m upset this was even allowed. How could the employer allow the daughter to go AMA? How was Ativan not allowed on his MAR? Especially with NKA to Ativan and a history of seizures. I went to the ER and while I was there he was not only given Ativan but Geodon IM… Read more »

Kathy C

Maybe 60 minutes should do a story on this to get attention.
I would also advocate for legal action – perhaps not against the patient but the failure of the hospital system to provide a safe environment.

Dour T

I am so sorry for what happened to you. Praises be to GOD that you are still here! I am angry as well: I work at a psychiatric hospital and repeatedly staff as well as other clients have been assaulted in the worst way by other patients and NOTHING has been done to the perpetrators, nothing. Recently an 8.5 month patient was kicked in the abdomen by a male patient, he was arrested but returned back to the facility!! Only to be given an entire unit to himself with his own nurse and 3 MHT’s A staff member was viciously… Read more »

M. Neptune

I think the whole staff on this specific setting, and psychologically affected can use this incident to start a momentum. They should also give their notice in support to their colleague in addition to suing the hospital for providing unsafe work environment and more. Please guys don’t leave her alone in this…Let your voices be heard as one, I am seeing something big in the horizon of this event.

RahJah

Crimes that go unpunished tells criminals that their behavior is acceptable & then we sit back & wonder why we live in a world where people think it’s ok to try & strangle your health care provider. My thoughts & prayers go out to her & her co-workers. I’ve never been strangled (Praise God), but yes, I’ve been not only abused by a patient at work, but by co-workers & management. This happens every day in the health care system, every day! Yet, the desire to serve, that God fills our hearts with, brings us back to that same hostile… Read more »

Mary Norman

I am so sorry for what happened to you and I’m angry and disgusted that this man is not being held accountable. I’m not understanding this , trying to talk this out so because he was a patient and you were his Nurse his care provider this is the reason for him not being arrested? So I’m not understanding if you were not his nurse maybe a visitor , a teacher , what about a police officer would this have made a difference? What is the definition of assault? What is the penalty? This is so not right we put… Read more »

Amanda-Dalia

God bless you and I am happy you are okay. My co-worker was attacked by a patient in psych and ended up on medical leave for a little over a year. The patient jumped over the nurses station and beat her for minutes before help arrived. He was about 200 lbs she was about 90lbs. Her leg and arm was injured. She left the hospital but continues to work in psych as her specialty. God bless her too. You both are soldiers in healthcare!!!!

Green Hosp.

I was an ER nurse while pushing Narcan thru IV I was punched in my face by my patient, no incident report was filed , no police was called. No apology from the administration was received at all, not even a pat in my back. It was 25 years ago and I thought the policy was changed after many years it is still the same. We NURSES should come together and formulate a law for the safety of all the nurses in our work area. Security guard should be available to help us if we needed them.

Sharon OKelley

In the 40 years that I worked as a NCA and a RN I have been verbally abused by patients, families, other staff members and physicians. Doctors and patients have made sexual comments and I have been groped by two male patients. I have been kicked, punched and bitten. When I was a NCA I worked in a locked geriatric ward. Myself and another NCA were attempting to get a patient out of bed to a chair. The patient punched the other assistant in the face. She promptly smacked the patient back. She was fired immediately. We are not allowed… Read more »

Done

“ME TOO”
In Ireland they have signs posted in pubs “Abuse of staff will not be tolerated”
Airlines will land that jet at the closest airport to have the offender removed by the FBI.
Hospitals don’t display this respect for their nurses, so why should patients show respect.
Nobody but fellow nurses know what we endure.
So glad I am done and getting out of the swamp (aka ED) after 40 years. The physical abuse is just the tip of the iceberg.
Litigation is the language hospitals understand so help them understand!

Ann Mammaro

Thank you for writing about the physical assault that you endured. It should not have happened. Nurses are at the front lines of medical care much like that of entering a war zone. We nurses are never prepared for this war, the emotional tugging on our hearts, the physical assaults that one day could kill us, the mental anguish that push our nerves toward symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. And yet we are told that we chose this line of duty in caring and assisting in restorative health to others, that we voluntarily signed up for this job. Well… Read more »

Lisa Cierpka BSN RN CCM

So it’s been some time since I have been at the bedside and the violence described by nursing in the 21st century is a bit foreign to me. I do not have any doubts that it happens however in the few comments and stories I have read , I haven’t seen mention of the patient ‘s neurological and mental status. NOT that this makes violence acceptable however for me personally it would impact my desire to press charges on a patient. I had my share of patioin the ICU going through DT’s or waking up after neurosurgery, and have ducked… Read more »

cincinnatianne

Nothing is going to change until the health care systems’ bottom lines are negatively affected! In 2012, I left a large health care system after 15 years, with no other job lined up after I was assaulted–really battered–3 times in two weeks! I’d never been slapped, kicked or punched prior to that. I’m no risk management department, but I’ve got the common sense to know that my getting slapped, kicked and punched by THREE different patients in the hospice inpatient unit, was directly related to the hospice’s Ivory-towers-style management decision to mandatorily float the inpatient unit nurses to any of… Read more »

Barbara Showalter

As a nursing student working in the ER on weekends, I was attacked by a patient. As I was putting her bed side rail up, the patient grabbed my hair and attempted to strangle me. (My hair was pulled back, but was very long). I had nothing to summon anyone and I could not make a sound. “Luckily” a strong male nurse walked past the room, saw what was happening, calmly walked in and put pressure on the patient’s carotids until she released my hair. When we opened her purse to find identification, she had a gun and several razor… Read more »

Yogi

Sue the hospital, administrators and the board This is absolutely unacceptable. They do not provide a safe environment for the staff. Get the attorney the gentleman had that fined Monsanto and set a precedent. Your family could have lost you and then no charges-you can bet the hospital administrators would sue someone if their family was choked that way.

CruisingForChange

What I have learned after working 22 years as a nurse is that the public is not educated on the role of nursing, including any type of health care worker. The general public has no idea of the training, education, and most importantly, the responsibilities we all have to our licenses according to our scope of practice. There were countless times I found it necessary to explain to a patient, family member or visitor how I was qualified to perform a task that they believed only a doctor could do or explain infection control to them when they requested to… Read more »

Zufan Woldetsion

I am so sorry that this happened to you, I am in tears while reading. I hope the hospital will take necessary action. Get well soon. You are in my thoughts and prayers. It reminded me that my younger sister who is RN who was working in ER about 30years, ago was assaulted and almost killed by her patient. She was in the office by herself . he gets in closed the door pushed big office furniture against door, chasing her around the room, having scissors yelling and cursing saying “I will kill you”. Poor my sister was terrified and… Read more »

Leonard Langlitz

I work In a ER In Albuquerque New Mexico and we are assaulted constantly. Last year I was head butted in the face I press charges went to the grand jury and the only thing they want to know was if the patient was aware of me being a nurse. The 12 jurors main concern was that the patient who assaulted me New that being in a white scrub top meant I was a nurse. I was told that the grand jury was going to press charges and go through with the trial That has been a year and a… Read more »

Paul Avalos, BSN, RN

I am a psychiatric RN and have been for 24 years. I have seen my share of patient assaults on healthcare workers. In the state of NM, such actions by patients are in violation of state law (4th degree felony). In each assault instance, I do press charges (5 to date) in which impaired patients receive probation for their actions. Each patient eventually violates probation and receive jail time. Action is needed to see that healthcare worker protections are enforced. In the facility where I work, formal charges are filed by management if a doctor is assaulted and the patient… Read more »

Bob

In Ohio if you hurt or injure a construction worker on a highway, you can be fined 7500 dollars and do 15 yrs in jail. We need the same kind protection for health care workers.

Andrea

I cried while reading this, as I’m sure some others did. My only serious physical assault in the ED was from a young 55-60 year old man (severely demented so living in a nursing facility) who punched me in the face while standing next to his stretcher talking to him. He was sitting upright and was a big guy, so he had a good reach. It happened about 9 years ago and I still have a click in my jaw from it. X-rays were fine but I had a whopping headache, bruising and soreness for a couple days. At that… Read more »

Theresa S.

My experience was nowhere near as bad as yours, but I still remember it more than twenty years after I left the hospital in question. I was working on a medical unit, located in a rather well-to-do area. That particular day we had to run a code on one of the patients, and we lost him. That alone is traumatic for anyone who cares deeply about what they do. My phone rang, and I was asked to go next door. I tried to take a deep breath, push my feelings aside, and go care for this sweet elderly woman who… Read more »

Happily Retired RN BSN of over 40 years

Hospitals need to be proactive in this area. When patient is receiving care they need to sign a waiver that they will be held liable for hitting and injuring any staff. Especially in acute care areas such as ICU’s and psychiatry,etc. The nursing profession is in the dark ages regarding this matter. We’re in a litigious society and the only thing the hospitals care about is their bottom-line and reputation. Nurses need to fight back instead of be complacent. Of course, they will replace you if you stir the pot too much. That’s the hospital’s philosophy. “Play good little girl… Read more »

Beth McCLeery

I don’t know what it will take for hospital administrators to change policies. Healthcare has become a “service industry” where we have customers, not patients. We are supposed to tolerate their bad behavior while APOLOGIIZING for whatever upset them, and do it with a smile. A good friend of mine was assaulted in the emergency department by a 16 year old male while she was doing triage. He had her cornered and punched her repeatedly. All while his father stood by and wrung his hands. She was then harassed by his mother when she pressed charges and had to get… Read more »

Suzanne Dunham, RN

I don’t know if the police thought that they couldn’t arrest him and take him right then because he was still an ICU patient or not. They would be hit with a liability suit if he was removed from ICU level care to a plain old jail cell. I don’t know…that is just speculation on my part. I have also been fortunate with the places I have worked. None were perfect mind you, but they took it seriously when staff members were assaulted by patients and visitors. Hell, there have been a few times with attacks for from people off… Read more »

Mimi Wisnewski

In my 32 years of Nursing, I was assaulted physically three or four times (except for one in particular I was lucky enough not to need medical attention) and verbally and emotionally abused on many occasions. This is considered acceptable behavior when an individual is hospitalized or mentally ill, and since it is becoming ‘accepted’ in the outside world it is even harder to fight against. But fight we must. Way back before this was even ‘public’ news, in 1989, I had a 6 ft. 5 in. patient choke and try to hang me with my own stethoscope–I blacked out… Read more »

KB in NC

Sitting here with tears in my eyes for the HELL you were put through. I, too, feel called by God to be a nurse, but NOT to be abused or attacked. The customer is NOT always right, and patients especially are given too much freedom to complain about issues that shouldn’t even be issues-RXs not ordered by provider, free meals, room preferences, etc. We are here to HELP, not be slaves to or be abused by those frustrated individuals for things beyond our control. We are part of their lives for but a brief moment in time and should not… Read more »

Alache, RN CST

So sorry this happened to you. I agree, as much as mental health is real, the lives of the healthcare workers should also be of utmost importance. Nurses are not security operatives.

Joe Waters,RN,BSN

I often wonder why it is that patients and family members, for some reason, believe that the law stops at the door of the hospital. I have been verbally abused numerous times as a ER and hit once. I made myself a vow, that if a patient ever strikes me again, I will, as a former Green Beret, strike back. There is no excuse whatsoever for anyone to threaten or strike a health care worker. Hospital admin expects nurse to take it. One event where I worked where a nurse was hit and threatened ended with the hospital administration they’ll… Read more »

Regina Ford

What a powerful message. I am so sorry this incident has happened to you. I experience a similar incident 32 years ago, while working in a Federal Prison. I feel your anguish. Only the Power of the Holy Spirit helped with the healing process in my life. Fortunately, charges were filed on the inmate and he received 20 years for assault. I am now in a hospital setting and this issue above happens on a daily basis to caregivers. Thanks for sounding the alarm! This has been hushed too long with out much recourse. Ill or not, persons should be… Read more »

Meish RN, BSN

It saddens me to read your story and disappoints me that justice isn’t being served. Too many times nursing injuries get brushed aside and passed off as “it’s a part of the job”. There is no where in the job description that says take a beating or get strangled. I feel for you and cannot even begin to imagine what you are going through and the myriad of emotions that you must be experiencing. Take solace in the Lord to find the strength to heal as you recover. Don’t give up on your quest to be the catalyst for change… Read more »

J Dub

Another very poignant, very real example of the nightmare administrators and legislators and lawyers have made of healthcare. Systematically over the past 30+ years have created a nightmare. Customer vs patient. Satisfaction vs objective success. Immediate gratification vs need. Entitlement, narcissism, manipulation, all tended to, rewarded and encouraged. Facilities and the industry do not educate to a different standard and as a provider you cannot educate or change a mentality in a few minutes or even days and especially not when no one will ever officially back you up. Nurses can be and are fired for a single complaint rather… Read more »

josef

Welcome to Nursing. After 21+ years, I thought that I had heard & seen it all. ED, ICU, LTC, it’s ALL the same. ‘Your’ facility will NOT back you up. ‘The Authorities’ will NOT back you up. You are on your own. Be prepared. NEVER turn your back on a potential assaulter.
Remember this next time someone tries to get you to work ‘extra’ shifts. Good luck.
Have a nice day.

Renee Harmon

As a home health nurse i am under constant guard for my safety as it is a less controlled environment going into private homes. thank GOD nothing close to this has ever happened. But I hope this nurse reconsiders lawsuits. she can hold the hospital responsible for not providing adequate security and im sure she can sue the patient personally also. what ever happens all nurses please be safe where ever you provide care.

Mary Jo Bankard

Ashley, so sorry thst this happened to you and that the patient was not charged with attempted murder. I retired after 49 years in education, critical care. OR, pre op, PACU, secondary recovery, endoscopy, stroke and cancer research, etc. I have had close calls, but never that close to death. I was working with another nurse in critical care, we were pulling a patient up in bed. We were using a draw sheet, bed a proper height, correct posture, etc. As we moved the patient, I heard the other nurse’s back crack. She bent over with pain. Do you know… Read more »

April G Lowry

Thanks for sharing this story. Powerful message indeed. I worked ER for 20 years, so I know the dangers are real One correction in the story is that the nurse’s name is Ashley Leilani Schade, not Ashley Schafer.
April L. in SC

SufferinRN

I am so sorry you had to endure that terror. I often relive that feeling. When will hospitals realize that WE are not SECURITY. WE are NURSES! I am still recovering from a beating I took in 2011 at a psychiatric hospital hospital out on Long Island. I was sent there by an agency. I asked them more than once to send me somewhere else but they said they had no other assignments currently. I told them I didnt feel safe there. They were relying on the nursing staff to thwart any patient violence. I was already short staffed that… Read more »

Judy RN, BSN, M.Ed, MSA

What city and police department? I think we nurses (yes an old psych nurses here) would like to know so we can share our thoughts with them as well.

Shaking our heads and saying “that’s a shame and someone should do something” is over. We must become the “someone’s” #RNsSayENOUGH!

JEANNE

I was pulled into a restroom, choked and punched for several minutes before help arrived… I unfortunately/fortunately don’t remember much of the attack. Apparently I swung back though… My lawyer and i fought hard for me to keep my license, the patient received 30 days probation (This is a state where it is a felony to hit a healthcare worker)…
In the end, I was treated like I was the perpetrator and he was the victim!!!
The whole system is screwed up and Lawmakers know this… Nurses are disposable in their eyes.

Kathy

That patient tried to KILL you- you should OWN him! Totally unacceptable that he wasn’t arrested and that no one from administration seemed to care or help. I have been an OR Nurse for 40 years and have been verbally abused by patients, physicians, co-workers and Managers. This needs to stop for the well being of ALL of us! I’d file charges against all of them and then I’d RUN not walk out of there as fast as possible! If they didn’t protect you then, they never will!

Michelle Onia, LVN

Mental Health is Real. I’ve been working with ED, and many types of mental health my past 17 years being an LVN. I have been assaulted in my past career. But the difference is, resident taken into custody. I hope your able to cope with this.