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How do I deal with a situation where I need to flee?

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As a caregiver, there are times when a patient or patient’s family member may become violent for any number of reasons. The person could be naturally belligerent, or the patient’s illness may drive them to fits of violence. Emotions often run high, especially if the condition of the patient is touch-and-go.

Regardless of the reason for the patient’s agitated state (or that of their family members), when you encounter violence, it’s your job to protect yourself and other patients first. While it’s certainly the job of the management to provide a safe working environment, you need to be prepared for every contingency.

When a person becomes violent, the best thing to do is to remove yourself from immediate danger. Run away. You don’t need to become injured, so say as little as possible and get out of the room.

If the violent person blocks your exit:

  1. Remain calm as you deal with difficult patients or family members. Listen to what the person has to say. If you can, subtly signal for help.
  2. Maintain eye contact with the difficult or demanding patient.
  3. Stall. The longer you can stop the person from hurting you, themselves or others, the better.
  4. Talk to the person in a level voice. Calmly ask questions about their concerns. Ask things like, “Are you sure you want to do this? Nobody wants to hurt you. Why do you want to hurt others?”
  5. Attempt to keep the situation under your control by remaining cool, asking questions and listening attentively to the answers.
  6. Don’t risk injury to yourself. Flee at the first possibility of escape.

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