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What Can Management Do to Prevent Nursing Abuse? Providers Have Thoughts.

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Nursing abuse remains a systemic issue in the healthcare industry. We’ve been posting regularly about this issue after hundreds of nurses came forward with their own stories of abuse. But many providers don’t have the resources to stop workplace violence on their own.

So, we asked nurses what their managers and employers can do to help them feel safe on the job. Here’s what they said:

Post VERY plainly in every room/triage and bathroom that abuse of staff will result in prosecution. They want to treat us like a business with customer service expectations, so we should set rules reminding them we will treat them like an unruly patron.

Lori

Management needs to back staff when abuse happens. Several times I have seen it swept under the rug to keep patients and families happy. When I was in management, I backed my nurses and CNAs. They knew that I would have no problem telling family members or residents (if they were capable of understanding) that abuse would not be tolerated.

Joy

Hire effective security, empower your staff to establish and enforce boundaries, and stop this customer service bullsh*t. And PLEASE stop catering to patient/family demands because they scream, nag, argue, bully, and abuse. Stop catering to abusive crap and uphold policy. And remove people who refuse to behave nonviolently… if it’s a patient who cannot yet be safely discharged, post security on the hall to escort staff in when they interact with them.

Erin

Acknowledging it exists would be a start.

Mary

Stop making everything about patient satisfaction.

Jessica

Prosecute patients and patients’ family members who assault nurses.

Bradley

Our ER hired specially trained (often military) security. They are standing with us as soon as a pt raises their voice. Violence didn’t decrease, but nurses and doctors feel much safer! Made a big difference in the triage and psych area.

Jessica

Management needs to stop believing PT complaints right away and discuss with nurses first, get their side of the story. (Sic)

Bryahna

Secure access to hospital. Security gives passes to each visitor, logs them in. Trained professional security. Safe staffing levels. Safe nurse to patient ratios. Panic buttons. Restrain pts appropriately. Call police for serious situations. Support staff after assault.

Virginia

Systemically get rid of patient satisfaction scores as a factor in hospital reimbursement for patient care. Prosecute patients who willfully cause harm to staff. Zero tolerance for threats to staff.

Jennifer

Maybe some sort of sign when patients have behavioral issues, so the staff knows not to go in a room alone rather than just waltzing in. They’re certainly doing a shitty job of it here in TN I’ll tell you that.

Amy

Stop telling nurses it’s part of the job and hold patients and families accountable.

Kris

Don’t allow the entitlement. They are so quick to please the customer (patient) and keep their family happy. How can the patients verbally and physically abuse us and then get an apology because their feelings were hurt??? Please. And they call the youth entitled. The 50+ adult crowd is the worst!! Entitled kings and queens.

Kathryn

The DOCTORS have to back the nurses up. I see doctors on the daily babying abusive patients. There is almost always a turnaround with the patient’s behavior when the doctor won’t put up with it.

Sunny

Get rid of the “patient surveys” where the responses are filled out by the patients whom you can’t make happy. Have a designated customer service person make rounds and ask how things are going. The surveys drive the reimbursement, but they only tell 1/4 of the story.

Jennifer

Is this a trick question? Hospitals are a business; they don’t care about the workers as long as they are making money and no patients are killed.

Deb

Back up the nurses, encourage prosecution, DO NOT ask them what they could have done differently to avoid the situation. That makes the patient look like the victim!

Sharon

Charge people when they assault a nurse. Report it EVERY time.

Jackie

Start allowing us to hold patients more accountable for their bad behavior.

Christine

I work for an outpatient clinic, and I was ripped a new one by a little old lady in front of an entire infusion room because she had to wait for her medication to come out of the pharmacy. The clinic supervisor who witnessed the situation called her the next day and told her if she ever did that again she would have to find a new clinic because we would stop treating her. Not much but it helps 🤷🏻‍♀️

Heather

The hospital I work at now is the only one I’ve worked at where they file criminal charges against patients for abusing the staff, and I think it makes a difference.

Andrea

Make management work the floor from time to time. I bet the policies will change.

Maria

This isn’t an administrative problem. This is a social problem. We live in an entitled society. Instant gratification rules all… What we need is for people to learn patience, self-soothing, and preventative measures. Last of all, mental health needs to be addressed! 99.9% of all problems are rooted in mental health issues and absolutely no resources to address them.

Heather

Don’t discipline nurses for sticking up for themselves.

Nancy

Have nurses wear body cameras and notify patients that it’s a crime to abuse staff and they will be prosecuted if they assault one even verbally. Just like how cops and postal workers are protected, medical personnel, food industry, delivery, and retail workers should be protected too!

Lina

Nurses should be allowed to file a police report and sue patients, families, and hospitals if they experience assault as any civilian would. I don’t go to work to get beat up or worse killed.

Tigesti

Thank you to everyone that shared their ideas. Administrators need to heed this information when making changes to the workplace.

These responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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