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How do I deal with a violent patient?

A trapped or wounded animal lashes out at those trying to free it from a trap. An elk whose antlers are trapped in brush may try to kick at its rescuers who have only the best intentions in mind. And an injured patient can behave like a trapped and scared animal in cases where they may feel out of control or in cases of extreme pain.

Although it’s your responsibility to create a safe atmosphere and environment for th patient, you should do so  only as long as you are not compromising your own safety. When you feel as though your own safety cannot be protected then you should immediately leave the room and notify security. If for some reason you cannot remove yourself from the situation safely, you should do whatever you can (yelling, pushing the call button, etc) to get reinforcements in the room with you for support.

Some health care facilities, depending on type, location and patient population will have more violence than others. The facility owner should have adequately trained professionals to deal with those patients who become violent. A nurse is not a security guard. It’s not your job to physically engage a violent patient. Remember, you can’t help others get healthy when you are injured.

Get these other expert answers for dealing with difficult patients:

How to deal with a needle phobe

How to deal with sexual harassment from a patient

How to deal with a hypochondriac

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