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
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.
Reading this at 2am after my colleague just had her wrist broken saving me from a patient who tried to punch me. And security had the cheek to say we can’t keep ringing them for everything as they’re busy….. and I’m back on shift again tomorrow.
I was punched by a patient. Not one of the company brass called to see how I was doing. I finished the shift and of course worked the next day. Took a week before I could go see a therapist ( on my own tome and paid for it myself). No support what so every.
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 and administrators in the hospitals. I have had many peers who have tried to press charges after an assault and are not taken seriously by the police. We are basically told that it is a risk of the job and nothing will come of it. Most of the attackers are alert and oriented and as in this case will voice their intent prior to an attack. A conviction is guaranteed if you are attacked as a private citizen or in another profession. So sad. So much need to change. When did nursing become a dangerous profession? Patients has more rights and are protected more than care givers unfortunately for very obvious reasons….
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.
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.
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 sincerely feel your pain. While our experiences are very different, I could only imagine the fear you encounter. Thank you for all the work you do and please find some time to start healing again. Will keep you in prayer.
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! What the hell? Our safety should never be compromised by Hospital numbers! All they did was gave this violent man to another RN.
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!
Absolutely mortified by your personal experience. Your facility does not value their staff, and all of you should leave that facility, ASAP!!!
Unfortunately, it is the same everywhere. It all comes down to the bottom line. The facility will keep the patient for financial reasons and avoid getting the law involved!!. Staff safety is secondary. As professionals we have to try our best to be safe and protect self. Sometimes this is not possible though. It would be interesting to learn how much more the ANA is focusing on these concerns from our professionals and petitioning for legislators to introduce laws that truly protects us. I have worked with nurses that reports that they feel so much safer as nurses in prisons than in a hospitals..
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 violent patients is the only surgical scars I carry are from injuries sustained from out of control patients. Not only chronic pain, but gut wrenching panic when altercations occur around me. How many other occupations can list repetitive violence, injury and distress with no legal repercussion as job requirement? My prayers go out to this nurse and all the other healthcare providers that put their mind, bodies and soul on the line every day. It is sad to say that are workplaces are becoming battlefields.
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.
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 as well. This could of been prevented. Safety first. I have loss pay, I have PTSD, and nothing was done to him. No mind altering drugs were given prior to my assault. He knew exactly what he was doing. I also teach nursing and this injury has affected my speech. I have TMJ, myoitis, contusion of the face, malocclusion, internal derangement, and a dislocated jaw. I’m treated as the villain and not the victim. I signed up for blood, brains, poop, guts,and urine. Unfortunately, I did not sign up for assault. According to the Board of Nursing in the state I reside, a sign letting staff and visitors the patient is combative is to be placed outside the door like an isolation sign. I’m upset nobody understands my pain or anxiety. I am taking a stance that ALL HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS be protected. I understand mental disorders however, this was not the case. And even if it was his condition should of been treated. The daughters AMA not only placed staff in jeapardy it also placed his safety in jeopardy. He could of fell out the bed or he could of continued to pull on pertinent lines like he already was doing. We as healthcare professionals are not regarded to when it speaks of safety and safe working environments. Where is the Justice for us? If I had done that to him it would of cost me my career. I’m very passionate about nursing. I take much pride in my ability to be caring and compassionate to complete strangers. I have anxiety about bedside nursing. Hopefully I can at some point put this behind me and go back to the loving caring nurse I was called to be. I wish you a speedy recovery both mentally and physically!
Nurse Tasha, RN MSN
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.
I agree. This is one of the dirty little secret of the profession. Assault on Nurses and the reaction or no actions of law enforcement and hospital administrators. This is one topic they certainly avoid in all the orientations I have been to . We are often not told about safety with regards to patient attacks, what are our options and what systems the hospital has in place to protect employees. We are educated on other stuff, BLS, CPR, fire hazards, etc. How about this, posting in elevators and all over the facility notices that it is a crime to attack health professionals and advising our clients of the repercussions if they attack staff for starters… Also truly create systems and policies that provide safety for employees. We are there to keep patients safe, how about doing the same for us.
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 attacked-hit in the mouth sustaining lacerations internally and externally to his mouth and suffered a concussion. The patient was arrested but returned back to the facility only to continue to harass and threaten staff.
Something HAS TO BE DONE to keep us safe.
May you be safe and blessed!
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.
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 & dangerous environment one 12-hour shift after another…Praying for the safety of all & the Freedom to live & work safely in the hate-filled world we all live in, inside & outside the health care system.
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 our lives in potential danger every time we clock in for our shifts and we are not protected from our legal system WOW!!!
No one has respect for nurses I’ve notice that first responders are offered gratuities from businesses Nurses are not we have no protection at all
I’m sorry I’m ranting now it’s just I love being a nurse two of my daughters are nurses this is just so heart breaking. I left the acute care setting after working almost in every department except for ER , my contact in the ER was as a resource nurse and was there to help when needed everything is dumped on the nurse we can do everyone’s job and they cannot do ours, it’s almost as if we are valueless in this
I’m now thoroughly done with the hospital setting I’m visiting patients in their homes now where I can be appreciated for what I give and do as a nurse to keep them home and not in the hospital. Again I’m so sorry for what happened take time to heal your spirit before returning to work
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!!!!
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.
I am a 40 year plus RN. I applaud you and think you should get a Medal of Honor for what you went through. That patient should have been restained and taken to a locked jail ward OR the city jail—whether in your hospital or another hospital. And if the hospital did not insist on the patient being moved they should have assigned a 24/7 sitter (for the safety of the staff) and a safety officer to the unit (for the safety of staff and OTHER PATIENTS on the unit! The hospital either has an attorney on staff or an attorney on retainer. The attorney should have been notified of this attack and brought in to deal with the police
I worked for many years in acute rehabilitation as a floor nurse and ultimately as the Director. I have been punched, tripped, bitten (and ended up with Epstein Barr virus for life), knocked to the floor with a pool stick. pinned to the floor by a psych patient, threatened by a drug stealing nurse and her son (actually had to leave my home until the son was caught by the police). And, in addition, I was verbally threaten by a physician (this was the doctor who was prescribing drugs for a nurse who was his patient). Try not to lose your compassion…I retained my love of nursing BUT some days were really hard.
Maybe we nurses should support and encourage more nurses to go to law school!
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 to defend ourselves and if you report it nothing ever comes from it. I am disabled now from the many years of abuse to my back and hips. Six major orthopedic surgeries have been performed since 2003. I’m in constant pain and walk with a limp. Thought that I would have had a longer career in nursing but it wasn’t meant to be.
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!
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 I say to those who casually say we should have picked another line of work, ifwe nurses cannot take the heat; I did not sign up to be a human target or a human shield and not a human doormat to be used at the whim of a broken medical system.
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 many a kick or grab. However 2 important things, in the 80’s,90’s and early 2000 in NJ we could use restraints and YEs 4 point Leathers to keep everyone safe. There were still those magicians that managed to get out of at least one restraint 🤔. The unit was designed in such a way that every patient could be seen at ALL times. Not this ridiculous hotel design of hospitals where nurses walk miles to get to their patients thus to us restraints takes an act of Congress- why because the new architectural design is geered toward patient privacy and comfort albeit both important however Safety should Trump those little items. Safety is applicable to ALL staff as well as the patients. Back in the day there was less violence which I attribute greatly to the use of restraints and hospital design in addition to administration actively involved in employee safety. Today, I can assure you if I were to be attacked the patient’s medical condition would play a factor if mentally altered I would hold administration accountable Legally. If the patient was simply a self entitled jackass, 911 would be the first thing I did once removing myself from further injury-policy be dammed! Stay safe Nightengales!
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 the 4 different inpatient units (IPUs). This decision was put into practice two weeks prior and was WAY outside 90+% of the nurses’ comfort zones, if for no other reason, than the minimum half hour drive between each of the units. The reality was, there was NO orientation and NO training for the other units. Each IPU was set up completely different from all the others, making properly caring for patients difficult–if not impossible. Our dying patients were not getting medicated on time. PRN meds were not being given, as the overwhelmed nurses were struggling to acclimate to the units, decreasing routine checks to ensure patient comfort. The subsequent pain and agitation had these patients not in their right minds, and I held them blameless. I filed several scathing incident reports, then quit. The care that my former hospice employer provides is so much less than it was. They have an excellent reputation, but it’s only going to take them so far. Even as a non-profit, they still have to meet a bottom line, and that seems to be their new priority. When an institution doesn’t even care for their patients, they damned-sure are not going to care for their nurses! As nurses, there are many things that separate us. While we may be divided, we shall not be conquered! Ashley, thanks for your post, which is incendiary in the best way possible. May it light a fire under us all, so that we may unite and affect change where it’s needed most!
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 blades in her purse. Had it not been for my co-worker, I would have been dead. We finished taking care of the patient and took her to her room. Security was not called, nor were the police called. I was young and didn’t realize my rights to protection by the hospital. I was not even offered an apology and my co-worker received no acknowledgement of his heroics. Nothing changed in the ER to increase staff protection.
That should have been reported! That patient could have hurt alot more people than just you!
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.
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 mop the floor of their room, repeated requests to wash men’s scrotums, and, yes, wash their clothes before they went home. To continue with a list would be redundant and too lengthy. I witnessed so much more when similar requests were made to my co-workers. Many times if the requests weren’t satisfactorily addressed to the patient or family, as in the nurse actually physically performing the requested task, “the manager or doctor” would be called in by them with a formal complaint given. To anyone who works in nursing, you know where that goes and who is slipped the buck.
But, I am not writing to complain about the realities of abuse.
In our society, globally, nursing is considered both the most trusted profession while at the same time is the least respected. One’s favorite pillow that, indeed, brings comfort towards healing the discomfort of the day, yet is held accountable if that doesn’t happen. After all, it’s just a pillow. I challenge anyone to ask themselves, including myself, why hasn’t nursing become mobile as an entire group to effect a change in the culture that has been forced upon it for as long as nursing has existed.
Our biggest wall to break through is having to face ourselves to see that compassion in no way speaks to placing oneself in harms way. I will willingly reach out my hand to help another, but I will not allow someone to use my hand in any which way they please. There are boundaries, there are boundaries to protect oneself from potential harm as there are boundaries to not harming another. No where in my license or ethics promise does it state that compassion requires I hand my body, life, or soul over to the hands of another in any situation. On my first day of nursing school, we were told that we would all find ourselves in a situation where we would have to choose leaving a place of work or our licenses, that we would never be backed by administration. We might lose the job, but losing the license would prevent us from performing as a nurse. Keep in mind boards of nursing have nothing to do with protecting nurses, it is protecting the public.
Which leads me back to the public. Think about how you have driven by a billboard displaying a perky young nurse smiling next to a smiling doctor with a white coat both of them wearing stethoscopes. We Are Here For YOU! Consider how many TV shows depict nurses crying, hysterical, running “to the doctor” for direction, or adamantly heading to correct a situation for a patient to only face antagonism from their superiors. How bout series like “House” that never show the presence of a nurse, the doctors perform all testing instead of licensed technicians including IV’s and blood draws, and a nurse is always dressed in a white dress with a nursing hat without a voice or sign of medical knowledge, or worse, is the one kicking people out of the room, again without a valuable medical role. My own family members have no idea of the training, knowledge, or experience I have garnered over the years yet they know I went to clinicals and received my BSN, and I have found this to be true of the public in general.
The article above screamed into the anguish of my heart, my chest, that has always been there from day one. That anguish was something I dealt with for the very same reasons the above woman spoke to in her post. I thoroughly understand the responsibility and liability that goes with it of my nursing role and scope of practice, and as many times I have chosen to advocate for a patient, a co-worker, including myself, is as many times I knew that administration considered their liability first above mine even though I followed policy. Always. Period. No matter where. When the shift happened to “customer service’ in the last decade or so, it caused a shift in the general public’s expectations of what being a patient means. It became an open house with no boundaries, basic human ethics, respect, or manners towards staff of all disciplines beyond the patients, family, and visitors who were respectful as possible given their medical condition or situation. I am not angry at the public, nor the patient, family, or visitors for they now have been brought to believe that the only human decency required is towards them. Of course, they are to expect decency towards them, but without them knowing what the difficulty or safety factors are required of us to exact that with their given “entitlement” sets the stage and environment for potential harassment and violence towards the very one providing the service.
As nurses, the profession of nursing, needs to begin with “respect for ourselves and each other.”
Compassion, “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others”, does not require co-dependency. Rather, compassion does not require martyrdom, as a verb it means “assist”, if one chooses to be compassionate to another.
It’s hard to want to continue trying to make a cake when every time one tries their effort fails.
It’s hard to want to continue being a nurse when every time one makes an effort to improve conditions it fails.
Who made up the rules that nurses, any caregivers, have no rights to their safety, dignity, and self because they are nursing. Who made up the rules that society decides what corner they must remain, that their role is to be passive and obedient to those rules. Who decided that nurses have no voice even though they are considered to be a part of a collaborative team. Why do we remain silent and contrite.
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 trying herbest to defend which was very hard. Thank God the head nurse who went for tea break came, and one brave patient dived through glass window and saved her.
I can feel your pain. East Africa
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 half and I’ve never been contacted or asked to go to court. One of my coworkers filed charges after an assault and when the police officer came he tore up the form and said we’re not going to prosecute them and let them go out the door
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 is taken to jail but not for nurses, techs, social workers, administrative personnel, ….etc. Our Board of Nursing saw to the legislation for protections for healthcare worker safety and I for one, see to staff safety before considering patient safety. I encourage all to do the same.
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.
I agree with you, Bob. Thank you for sharing.
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 time I would never have thought of reporting it or pressing charges, especially with his dementia. God willing it won’t happen again, but I absolutely agree with pressing charges now. I definitely see a difference in the patient population now than I saw 28 years ago when I started out. The mental health population and their needs are incredible. Sometimes there are more mental/behavioral health patients in the ED than there are medical patients! Many of the assaults on our staff have come from patients who are not demented, or otherwise unaware of their actions. The behavioral health population is quite volatile, and charges have been made against these aggressors. We choose where we work, and we understand the risk involved, but that doesn’t mean we accept it! Or that we are OK with it! Because we are not!
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 was being discharged. I was instantly greeted with rants from her daughter. Where were you, I shouldn’t have had to wait for you, I want to take Mom home and her suitcase is missing. I tried to explain that I was in a situation I couldn’t leave, we were trying very hard to save someone’s life. I was told that didn’t matter, I should have been helping her find Mom’s suitcase!
I still remember that as if it were yesterday. The pain of losing the patient in the code, immediately followed by a wealthy woman treating me like a slave! And there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.
The situation today is much more precarious. We have a hospital downtown where staff gets assaulted so often that they actually have a policy to deal with it, and a police officer at the door of the emergency room.
Disability forced me to leave the bedside seven years ago, but even then nurses were being treated like a commodity. Get the older nurses out and bring the younger ones in, their salary is cheaper.
Health care does need to change, but I hope you get justice. Even if you have to file charges as an individual, since your hospital doesn’t seem inclines to help you.
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 and take some whacks for the team.” Remember nurses, you are a person first!
I knew of an incident in a psych hospital where the patients were allowed to play pool if their behavior warranted it. The unit was adolescent girls. Unfortunately, a mental health worker was bludgeoned with a cue stick and rendered unconscious. “The girls” didn’t like the fact that there were restrictions placed on them at all such as smoking. The family of the mental health worker sued the facility. So, who is at fault? The facility “powers-that-be” who granted this step-up or the institution itself?
At the end of the day, someone is at fault. If the institutions cared more about healing as opposed to the bottom-line, perhaps this wouldn’t have happened. Who knows, ya’ know? The facilities need to be more pro-active in creating an environment where all staff are fully protected … and it is more nurturing to its staff.
I am sorry for this nurse. I hope she has a good lawyer.
Yes. She should sue. The hospital will not back her up bur she is a person with rights. I hope she gets a good lawyer. I worked in hospital where a visitor slapped a Unit Secretary because no coffee had been made. She called the police. The hospital scolded HER and said she was not “friendly enough” to the visitor an implied that she deserved the slap. She did not drop the charges because this was an assault on a female. The visitor seemed to believe that, since she worked at a hospital, it was okay to slap her.
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 a restraining order on her. I work in a pediatric hospital and I am frequently treated poorly by families who think they are in a hotel. Nurse may have to solve this problem themselves, because it doesn’t look like anyone else is trying.
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 the street who didn’t have anyone in the hospital. The ER where I worked had security and campus police stationed right there. All people had to pass through an airport grade metal detector. The first week that went live, they confiscated over 500 guns, knives, screw drivers, bullets, and even a set of brass knuckles. Scary. Like everyone else who posted, I’ve been hit, grabbed, slapped, spit on, sexually propositioned, and called all kinds of foul names. The worst was when a 24 year old IDD patient came in for something. I can’t remember what it was for. He was with his mom. Nice kid actually. I did remember to take my stethoscope off and put it in my lab coat pocket. I had long hair at the time and it was back in a ponytail. After starting an IV and getting blood, he wanted a hug to thank me that it didn’t hurt. So I did. He saw my ponytail and said, “Oh pretty!” Then he pulled it. Hard. Had my neck bent back. He had a death grip on it. His mother was trying to help me get free, but he kept saying “pretty, so pretty”. Two of my male colleagues heard the commotion as I called for help. It took all 3 of them to set me free. My neck hurt for a couple of weeks. He didn’t mean it, and I wasn’t angry at him. He didn’t know what he was doing. The 2nd worst came from an 84 year old sun downer. I had a bruise on my right ‘cheek’ in the shape of a hand print. I don’t mean my face.
I most cases, we don’t seek to press charges because we know most of these people aren’t in their right minds. However, there are times that totally cross the line. Those patients need to be held accountable for breaking the law for attempted murder. If I were this RN, I would sue the hospital for failing to provide a safe work environment, and I would sue the DA’s office if they choose not to charge this guy for minimally assault and battery. I now work at a state psych hospital, so we get the best of the worst patients that the other places don’t want. We’ve had several staff members get assaulted. I have a current patient on my caseload that assaulted a staff member, and she did press charges. We even have patients who get assaulted by other patients who have pressed charges as well. People need to know that being in the hospital is just like being on the Jerry Springer show. You can be charged for assault and battery if you attack other cast members or staff.
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 and truthfully from what I CAN remember (most of it gone from anoxia), I don’t believe he was mentally ill–but rather just a very mean, violent individual who didn’t want some little girl sticking him with a needle (I was 90 pounds in those days). Years later, I continued to work with a broken clavicle for two months after pushing a bariatric patient to the OR with too little help. Didn’t even know it was broken till my entire side swelled! Bottom line is, my body, mind and soul (and believe me I know I am one of THOUSANDS who feel the same) had been battered, abused, taken for granted, taken advantage of, belittled, and exhausted for so long I left the bedside in 2014. Part of me still misses it every single day, but I had to leave to protect myself and my sanity. I no longer feel the same sense of validation, accomplishment, or gratification as I did from saving lives, but I saved myself–we all need to save ourselves! No one else is going to do it–we are proof.
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 come to work dreading and expecting backlash from the families we care for. Yes, health care DOES need a major overhaul, but NOT at the expense of safety and the mental well-being of its workers.
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.
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 the nurse that if she filed Charges against the patient that she will no longer have a job. This is the reason that people feel that they can do whatever they want to do and get away with it. The hospital is worried about report cards on their faculty.
I am just glad that I will retire in about five years and no longer have to put up with the abuse that we nurses experience at work by the people that we are there to take care of.
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 held accountable for their actions. Society is becoming more violent and insensitive. My prayer is that you will find comfort in God’s words of assurance, His peace, family, friends, and co-workers. Don’t be shamed into not receiving professional help. Forgiveness is a choice, but can be a slow walk, guarding your heart. Consider our Savior as the ultimate example of Grace and Truth.
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 on nurse safety.
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 than an effort made to show support or that they are valued. We must be perfect every day, in every way but no official acknowledgements are made of unsafe practices, of imperfect systems, that many times we are struggling to stay above water in raging flood of demands and the collective response is ways we can bail the water faster or rearrange the furniture yet again to handle the stampede of customers all needing to be seated and waited on first. It’s why nurses are flocking to advanced degrees that get them into suits or white coats and out of scrubs. Why many seasoned nurses are just biding time to retirement and no longer take midlevel management positions: lack of support, constantly addressing “customer” complaints instead of clinical issues, and an overwhelming and thankless task of managing chaos without the required tools. It’s like being in a fire fight and afterwards harangued and second guessed with what, why, how questions by those who either have no real idea what we face or have long forgotten since they joined the white coat club and are primarily concerned with flow charts, graphs, metrics and maintaining their own comfortable position in the status quo. Meanwhile, the hard questions go unasked, the dysfunctional culture continues, and we are valued employees in advertisements and corporate propoganda only.
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.
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.
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 they said she wasn’t using proper body mechanics? They also said she probably already had problems with her back. They would not allow me to testify as an eye witness. She was unable to work in nursing anymore, due to this back injury. The hospital administration does not back their nurses. No wonder there is now another nursing shortage!!
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
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 evening, when I was told to send 1 of my 2 aides on the unit to another floor. That left me with ONE aide and while I tried to review the days notes, and prepare meds for 12 pts One of my patients had a visitor come. Normally an aide is standing by to oversee, but somehow I had to oversee them, write notes, pour meds answer the phone and listen out for the nurses aide down the hall in the dayroom alone with 11 patients. My patient became upset with a family member because they wouldnt “take me home”. She threw herself on the floor.
I began trying to talk to her when out of the blue she grabbed me up like a Barbie Doll by my hair, slung me around like a rag doll and then, jumped on me, kicked me and said, ” you’re dead”. I remember thinking I’d never see my family again.
They’d never see me again. Apparently 10 minutes went by as her family screamed and begged for someone To come while she kicked me and stomped on me. No one heard them. I do remember hearing lost of screaming. I was dazed. To make matters worse as I lay on the floor unsure of my injuries, and unable to take a breath because of severe pain in my ribs, a “Doctor” told the staff to inject me with Ativan. I protested but they gave it to me anyway.
At the hospital, where they also gave me something for pain I really could not answer their questions and faded in and out. I don’t even know if they really checked me out and I don’t remember how I got home. Later I learned an aide, (wonder what floor they stole her from) had stayed with me but I don’t remember her. I also didn’t find out till I returned to work 1 month later that I had been knocked unconscious for at least 10 minutes. I was told by another staff that they had seen the video and advised me not to watch it. That video by the way has disappeared. Now I’m taking seizure medication for nerve damage to my 7th cranial nerve. Nurses, no matter how you show them in a few hour class to defend themselves, using their coworkers as partners, are not Security. This hosspital had NO security.
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!
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.
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!
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.
It’s not right to have to put up with this. They should staff ICU better if they are going to handle patients like you experienced. Of nurses should carry pepper spray.
It is never ok to be assaulted by a patient or family member. It is long overdue for the rights of a nurses personal safety to be at the forefront of our profession. Especially in these times. They should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. # nurse strong
After 41 years of night shift in the ED, I have been on the receiving end of similar incidences too many times to count. The best thing I ever did for myself and my family was to retire at 62 and start living the life of a normal person. I hope you survive long enough to enjoy the same joy, you earned it and deserve it! God bless you.
This is yet another hurdle in the long fight for justice and better working conditions for Nurses. Could it be the fault of the administration of hospitals that allows this to happen? The hospital should be made to file the complaint on behave of the nurse. Assault and battery. Or maybe the nurse should sue the hospital for providing unsafe working conditions for their staff? We, as nurses, care for everyone. No matter what. AND YET we are treated like butt wipes. Disposable tools of the medical and insurance industry that makes zillions of dollars on our backs. Where does OSHA come into play? How many nurse’s have had their back/neck damaged from lifting and pulling patients? as well as being grabbed and pulled on. What happened to the 8 hour shift/ day? 12 hour shifts are brutal, but it “saves” money by hiring less staff. Patient care load is soooo heavy. So many to care for…everyone desperately wanting’ their’ nurse to tend to their needs first. Team nursing has all but been eliminated. The team nursing approached created a sense of support and was a safety net for the staff. Primary nursing basically means one nurse needs to do it all.
My prayers and heart go out to this nurse. Maybe she is the catalysis for the change that is so desperately needed!!!
I don’t know all the details, but it certainly seems as though charges should be brought against this individual. I too am a nurse and have been caught in the middle of a violent situation trying to protect my patient, the child of feuding parents. So often there are extreme emotions involved when someone is gravely ill or injured , and we as nurses often get the brunt of the anger and abuse. We are certainly an under appreciated profession. Others do not realize all that we give in service to others and the toll it often takes on us (and our families). This needs to be brought to your administration. Fight for what is right!
Nurses lives are worthless on the job. This is why I quit nursing and why so many quit. I won’t put up with it. I won’t tolerate it. Psych nurses especially have zero protection. I worked a job that literally said during orientation “If you get hit, kicked, or punched during the first two weeks you’re doing something right!”. Ok, here’s my 5 minute notice! To hospital administration nurses are truly just “human resources” AKA chew em up and spit em out. Since nursing care is a major profit motive for hospitals, the shorter the staff the better. Bigger bonuses!
Advocating for nurses and complaining about it won’t change a thing unfortunately. The only power nurses have is to LEAVE and never come back. That’s why this will never be resolved but just swept under the rug.
Thank you Drew. I quit too it was the hardest thing I ever had to do. It was my livelihood for 43 years. I worked every facet that nursing offered at the lateral work positions. I never saw myself as top level administration overseeing others and enforcing the established management rules and government regulations. The work environment in this Era is not conducive to work for the good of the many since nurses can be shot in the line of their job duties there are no work place protections. Nurses must transform themselves to become EMTs and legal juris prudence specialists instead of NURSE.
I agree with you, Drew. Nurses should reinvent themselves to become educated in the legal world to become nurselawyers.
What a sad and tragic experience for you and your colleagues! As a nurse of 40+ years, your story brought to mind a few of my own personal experiences where I truly felt for my safety and for those around me, primarily in the ED and critical care units. My experiences never reached the intensity than the one just described, but never the less, the emotions I felt during those times can be recalled after many years. I think your experience without question qualifies as traumatic – on many levels. Hopefully, your hospital has the resources to provide care for the PTSD that you will undoubtedly experience. But! Please remember, we nurses are some of the strongest and most resilient people on the planet! I hope this experience doesn’t harden your apparent capacity for caring and compassion for the future patients you care for. Our profession needs people like you. God bless you in your recovery and for the work you do.
I am not understanding why this person not only was not arrested but why he is allowed to stay in the hospital to endanger other nurses? I personally would not take care of this person and all of the other nurses should refuse also!
I am so sorry for your pain, it is unfathomable to me that the police didn’t arrest him. Regardless of whether he is or isn’t competent he assaulted you. I don’t know what state you are in. In NJ you can file charges as an individual. I did this against a patient who attacked me and spent a year going to court every month, he didn’t show 9 times. His family tried to get me to drop the charges. I refused. He was finally held accountable and has an assault record. Don’t give up, you deserve justice.
The fact that no charges were filed is simply unacceptable. I would consider legal action against the administration of the hospital or the government of the town for flagrant violation of civil rights. We the nurses are the heart of healthcare and need to be treated as such. Frankly, I do not think I could go back there.
Powerful message and one that is poignant during this unsettled time in the world.
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