Strike a nerve, much?
Some study I Googled last night said that 430,000 nurses report that they're victims of violence or intimidation on the job every year, and that that number is likely low due to under-reporting. Seems that a lot of nurses think that getting clocked or yelled at is just part of the business of being a nurse, and that some managers think it's whiny if you report being a victim of violence.
You know, what pisses me off most about last night, is this: (well, two things, actually)
First, that the first-line person, my manager, did not automatically go to bat for me. Instead of laying out ground rules, he attempted to perform some weird magical act of conflict resolution that would somehow make it all okay.
That has two results. The first is that the person who swang/swung/swinged at me has no incentive to change that behavior. "Act badly, get coddled" is the message.
The second result is that I know, now, that if I attempt to set firm boundaries with a person, like "Do not try to hit me. That behavior is unacceptable" I have absolutely nothing with which to back that up. I am really and truly on my own as a caregiver. If the person then complains, or tries to rough somebody up, we're back to Conflict Resolution and Good Customer Service.
And this makes me sit back and scratch my head and slurp my coffee thoughtfully.
The majority of comments left after yesterday's post talked about lawsuits and criminal charges, which tells me this: That I am not alone in working for a facility that has no plan in place for dealing with patient-on-caregiver or family-on-caregiver violence. I'll bet doghair to donuts that all of you guys have codes for civil disturbances or codes for when some nut comes onto the floor waving a gun, but that there's no code to call when a patient tries to cold-cock you.
So. Sunnydale has no plan. Sunnydale's Corporate Manglement has no plan. It's nursing, Three-Stooges style, except the pratfalls are real. So what will I do the next time this happens?
That's a hell of a question. If I'm feeling tough, I might well file charges and insist upon a root-cause analysis of the problem. (RCA's are when all the mucketies get together and go, seriously and with intent, over the entire history of something that has gone Very Wrong.) I might make noises about lawsuits and editorials for nursing magazines. I might even be serious.
Because, as I said before, the only way to get the folks on the carpet to listen is to threaten either their bottom line or their good public image.
Now: one thing to get straight this second is that I would not, unless Manglement or the hospital were way, way in the wrong, sue anybody for money. I'm not really interested in that sort of drawn-out, pain-in-the-ass process, and it wouldn't end up solving a damned thing, as the facility (if somebody *were* to get hurt) would settle in return for a non-disclosure agreement.
What I *would* do is insist on new standards of behavior for patients, family members, and visitors. What I want is a policy in place that says, If you do X, then Y will happen. What would make me happy about working where I work is a recognition on the part of all the managers that The Customer Is Not Always Right, and that there are some things that are beyond the pale.
Right now, all of us, whether we're in the ER or on the floor, are subject to threats that would never fly in any other business. If you holler abuse in a bar or try to start a fight, you get thrown out. If you throw a temper tantrum in a restaurant, you'll get thrown out. If you try to injure somebody in public, you're gonna have to talk to the police. But swing at or holler at a nurse? It's all part of the game.
Why are we less safe at work than we are in a bar? Why are the standards of behavior so much lower for the consumers of our product? Because, quite frankly, if the patient is going to be treated as a consumer of healthcare, they need to be subject to the same standards of behavior that consumers of alcohol, groceries, or cut flowers take for granted.
The answer to the problem of violence against nurses is simple: People who are violent or threatening need to be refused care. The way to get that policy implemented is much, much more difficult.
I think I'm going to lean back, furrow my brow, and slurp some more coffee while I think about it.