Workplace Violence in Health Care Settings

On a night lit by a full moon, Rosemary, a floor nurse, went in to take the vital signs of a young female patient who had been admitted for a heroin overdose. She found the girl awake, hostile, aggressive, mumbling incoherently with bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils. When she approached the patient, the patient grabbed her; screamed obscenities; attempted to choke her; then chased her out of the room. Rosemary ran towards the nursing station to ask for help. Fortunately for her, the patient was ataxic and uncoordinated and collapsed on the floor. The security guard was not in sight and Rosemary waited a few minutes before he showed up. She also called for a rapid response team to revive the patient. She wondered how much longer she could do this job. There was no way to call for help, no safe place or room for staff to hide from aggressive patients. It was only a matter of time before she was injured—or killed. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. What are the major issues in this case? 2. Research on workplace violence in health care settings and present current statistics. Who are the victims and perpetrators? Why are health care professionals reluctant to report workplace violence directed towards them? 3. What are the management implications of this case? What impact does workplace violence have on health care professionals and to the organization? What should management be doing to protect their employees? 4. If Rosemary had been injured, who would have been responsible? What if the patient attacked another patient or hospital visitor? What are the legal and ethical obligations of Greenville Community Hospital to its employees and to its patients and how do they apply to this case? 5. What strategies can be taken to prevent workplace violence? Create an emergency plan for the staff in this unit while they await administration’s decision on renovations.

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