Violence Against Nurses: Examples From The Front Line In America.

I asked my thousands of Facebook readers one simple question:  What's the worst thing a patient has ever said or done to you over the years. Most of the responses involved violence against nurses in the form of verbal, physical and mental abuse.  Some states have laws declaring assault on healthcare workers as a felony. Without further delay, here are dozens of real life experiences from nurses and other healthcare providers on the front lines of American medicine
  • My personal favorite is a very intoxicated woman brought to the ICU in four point restraints.  It seems she was a really mean drunk, had made some people pretty angry and she had been beaten with a baseball bat. Her face was so swollen, she could barely get one eye open. She had continued to be belligerent and uncooperative to the ER staff, and finally they had had enough and brought her to ICU without even treating any of her injuries. When they wheeled her into the room with those leather restraints on, she opened her one eye a slit, sized me up, and said, "Don't even f&@*#n look at me-I'll hurt you real bad!" By morning, as she was sobering up, she kept wanting to look at herself in a mirror and she kept saying, "Why would anyone want to hurt me like this? I'm a nice person!"
  • Oh the memories! Yep, I've been through all the usual hitting, kicking, cursing, violence, spitting, groping, innuendos, tube ripping out, food throwing, refereeing, and other awesomeness in nursing with patients. Also when I worked for a pharmacy the police naturally had to be called a few times because of patients making threats. The police even drove me home once after a patient's doctor refused his Vicodin fill. I lived not even one block away. 
  • I'm a social worker, and the families are the mean ones to me. They lie, manipulate and threaten, call names, etc, all because there mommies can't get a skilled nursing bed at their favorite facility!
  • I like it when people scream "You motherf***kers, I said I can't breathe!" If you can scream, you can breathe. Respiratory 101.
  • ER nursing is a full contact sport... Without the padding!
  • It's one thing to encounter these things with a confused patient. If all hospitals would become a united front and advocate the protection of staff by enforcing policies to have these patients arrested for assault and/or battery, it would decrease the abuse health care workers endure nationwide. Of course, this would alter "patient satisfaction scores."
  • Had a "paraplegic" patient get all cranky that she wasn't getting the narcs she wanted, she kept saying she was going to go ama. I finally lost it and told her to get up and go.
  • I had a hep C patient (who knew it) spit blood at me during a trauma.  He was completely mentally intact. When I told him you can't do that, his response.... You people are worthless. I promptly netted his face with a spit trap.
  • I got pulled to psych one night and a patient's CPAP mask kept slipping off and beeping so I would go in to fix it. The 4th or 5th time he finally said this doesn't fit I'm gonna make a new one out of your tit skin. As flattering as that was, I told him I didn't think that would make a big enough mask.
  • From a patient perspective, it's hard not to call names when there is a finger in your butt and nobody bought you dinner first.
  • This certainly isn't this worst but pretty funny. We had a patient tell another nurse there are three things wrong with this hospital the first is your breathe.
  • Had a pissed off patient rip off her colostomy bag & throw it at me because the doctor would not order anymore narcotics.
  • "Lesbian, c*nt, b*tch whore, you infect people with your HIV blood from fucking n*gers." Very creative.  Somehow people forget that once we have you sedated with 10/2/50 we choose the catheter sizes to obtain blood/urine samples! Yes and people pooping the bed who are A&Ox3 and telling you to clean them up, and then walking out of the ER once discharged. Really?!
  • Where should I begin, bit while trying to insert IV, spit in the face, clawed on my face and one of my personal favorite statements, a patient wwith "severe migraine" yelling and screaming at everyone, took the time to call me "white trailer park trash" and the nursing assistant standing next to me "my black sidekick." The more we laughed, the more irate he became and we we're only 2 hrs into our 12 hrs. Doc went into his room told him tests were neg and because his "severe migraine" appeared to have subsided, discharged him home with ibuprofen. This nut case was so furious, he waited in the parking lot for me and "my sidekick" to go home. Had to call Sheriff, the moron went home then came back with a different car. This time he received a personal ride home-in back of patrol car!
  • For 32 years I've been an RN in a Trauma ICU in a Level 1 Trauma hospital. There is nothing that shocks me anymore. I've been hit, kicked, spit at, had full urinals thrown at me, it goes on and on. Thank goodness for four point restraints, Ativan and propofol.
  • In my short experience of being an RN in the ER, I've been called every name in the book at least twice spit at, swung at, kicked at, pinched & groped. And once, an intoxicated patient decided he'd had enough fun and pulled out his IV and flung blood from the tubing at me. Good times... good times.  I've developed a pretty thick skin as well as some pretty awesome defensive ninja moves!
  • The Nebraska Medical Center has signs all over the place that it is a felony to assault a health care worker in the performance of their job, and violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent if the law. Haven't had to test it yet, but I'm glad to know I work for an organization that puts my health and safety over patient satisfaction scores!
  • Spitting. If it hits me,  welcome to the vent so I can help you control your secretions!
  • I was very pregnant and a patient removed an entire pack of cookies from atop my med cart. (It was a nursing home, and the kitchen had sent up snack for the whole unit). In my attempt to get it away from her she said "If you want that baby you're carrying to live, you better back the F*$% up".  Since then I have moved to the hospital, and have been called every name in the book, get physically assaulted just about every shift. It never ends. That's neuro for ya though!
  • I find some women family members can be real nasty and say antagonizing remarks. I chalk it up to they couldn't make it through nursing school and are jealous.
  • A patient (A&Ox3) crapped in the bed and told me I'd better clean it up before there was a complaint.
  • Patient tried to stab me with a hunting knife because I refused to write an RX for oxy!
  • I am a phlebotomist and a patient informed me that the hospital served sh*t for food. He then lifted the lid off his dinner tray and there was a perfectly formed turd lying on his plate. I just stated to the patient, "Well I guess they do".
  • There are several things I remember. One in particular stands out. Years ago, I went into a woman's room to give her a synthroid which she took everyday of her life. She wanted me to fluff her pillow, get a drink of water, etc. before taking her medicine. Management had told us to really be nice to her as she was complaining about the service.  This was in the '80's.  Anyway, I did everything she wanted and forgot to give the pill and left it on her bedside table. The next shift, another nurse found it and reported it. The patient said to the head nurse: "She supposed to make sure I take my medicine." To this day, I watch 99.9% of my patients take their medicine no matter how long it takes. She totally ruined my ability to trust my patients to do what they know to do or say they will do. I don't hesitate to tell my patients why I watch them if they ask me.
  • I had a female patient request a bedpan and then once she had a bowel movement proceeded to throw it at us!
  • I've been kicked, punched, bitten, peed on, puked on and spat on. I've had just about every bodily fluid on my clothes (other than breast milk) at one point or another. I've been insulted, cussed at and listened to racial, sexist and cruel things said about other nurses. I've refereed fights between family members and even families and patients. Daily, I have to stop and laugh to myself at the fact that I went to college for this. But I honestly, even with all that, love what I do.
  • I had a dementia/Alzheimer's patient slap me across the face.  Ouch! And he had been smiling few minutes before.
  • Before I became an RN I was an STNA working in long term care. A little 99 year old lady leaned over and bit my upper arm while I was transferring her from the bed to wheelchair. She held on to it for dear life. It didn't break the skin but I had a huge raised black bruise and I'm the one who had to get a piss test. I didn't bite her!
  • I was told in the middle of my night shift by a man who could transfer himself to the bedside commode with no problems, "You need to change my diaper." I discovered the man had put a brief on when he went to bed. I said, "You seemed to be doing fine earlier." He said, "It's your job." I was so pissed off, after that I made no eye contact with him and no effort to speak Spanish either. Also the classic still smoking COPDer who is screaming at the top of her lungs "I can't breathe!!! I can't breathe!!!!" And the meth head who screams at me "F*#k you!!!" Whereupon I scream just as loud back, "I wouldn't give you the satisfaction!!!"
  • Had a patient aim her ass at an aide and attempted to projectile shit on her. She was HIV + and oriented.
  • One called me a b***h-a** n*****. One reported me to the state for I don't even know what after she became enraged I wouldn't disclose what religion I believe in!
  • We had one gentlemen threaten to come back and shoot all of us for discharging his girlfriend without notifying him (he wasn't POA). You want to laugh it off but these days you have to take it seriously.
  • As a 27+ year Critical Care Paramedic, I've been punched, slapped, kicked, bitten, pinched, spit on, pissed on, shit on, ducked any one of a 1000 things thrown at me, shot at (TacMedic as well), screamed at, yelled at, cussed out VERY colorfully, wrestled with, had my heritage questioned, my parents marital status questioned, my sexual orientation questioned (How DARE they assume I'm straight? Offends me every time!) threatened with everything from death to sticking one of several things into any orifice they fancied...pretty much everything most of us in healthcare have gone through. EMS is not for sissies, lol! I am passionate and LOVE what I do, all the same. The good saves and great patients...the courage I see every shift...the chance to REALLY make a difference...that is GOLDEN.
  • We were having our usual Saturday Night Smackdown in the Trauma ICU and my admit was a meth user who was coming down and not happy about it. While moving him from stretcher to bed we had to release the leather restraints. He got one leg loose and kicked me and broke my nose! One of the trauma surgeons who was a black belt jumped on him and applied some type of move that got him under control really quick. I later thought that might have been a really useful skill that we should learn in nursing school! Thank you to the plastics guy who made my nose pretty again.
  • I had a patient stand on top of the exam table and refuse to come down unless I gave him a script for Vicodin. I told him I'd call the police if he didn't get down and left him in there. He finally got down and left.
  • I can't believe the stuff we endure. It amazing that we keep coming back for more. We should be able to press charges against patients for assault and battery.
  • I had a four year old call me a bitch right before I was going to give him shots and working in public health only gets crazier every day with people feeling entitled and expecting VIP treatment.
  • I had a lady stab me in the hand with a pen I had just given her to write my name down because she wanted to complain about me because I was the triage nurse that night and she didn't feel I was sending her kid back fast enough.
  • Threatened me with a bomb!
  • When I was working in a nursing home as a CNA an Alzheimer's resident bit my boob while I was leaning over tying her gown.
  • They neglect to warn you of the abuse that will be heaped on you when you go to nursing school. I met a former nurse who'd been punched in the face by a patient so hard that she required multiple reconstructive surgeries. People act like animals.
  • 9 years of inpatient and community based mental health before getting my RN has calloused me against nearly every form of verbal, psychological and physical violence. Luckily, I have never been sexually assaulted. Glad to be away from that now.
  • Kicked in the abdomen when pregnant with second child!
  • Have been punched, slapped, kicked, shit on (on purpose).
  • Something along the lines of "I'm going to f**cking kill you".
  • I've been punched, kicked and bitten. The latter was considered an exposure so I had to go through the whole protocol. The interrogation by employee health was a worse experience than dealing with the patient.
  • A 48 yr old capable of walking. The bed rail was let down and the patient curtain opened and shown where the bathroom was straight across the hall. One of my MDs called STAT another nurse (thankfully I was on lunch break) the patient's family member had gotten bed pan from cabinet and she was squatting in floor with gown fully open in back for every Joe Blow to walk by and see....yes., gotta love ER = Everyone's Retarded.
  • Oh, but one guy with a brain tumor who was also having an adverse reaction to Ativan said things that I wouldn't repeat in the privacy of my own home. He was sweet as could be the next day.
  • I am an ER pharm and it gets bad in there too. My hair is short so our stroke patients have said crazy stuff. One said "I would never take your ugly f$$$ing ass out to eat with that haircut"as he finished cursing the nephrologist on her way out the door. Lots of prisoners come thru as well so it can get colorful language wise. I actually got it worse in retail.
  • Had a patient cornering me and shoving an IV pole in my face because I refused to apologize for "9-11"... spat on, punched, kicked, shit balls thrown at by HIV patient with dubious CD4 count... oh joy...
  • I was blocked up against a wall and beaten in the chest by a patient with meningitis until help came to get them off me. I went to employee health I wanted to go home but we were already short so I stayed in work the whole night.  
Make sure to check out the hundreds of original Happy Hospitalist nurse ecards on Pinterest.

"I get kicked, beaten, stabbed spit on and cursed at.  And I always respond with kindness, except that one guy who made fun of my haircut.  I kicked his ass real good."

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Alternatively, nurse violence against doctors appears to be on the rise. Perhaps all that violence against nurses is having devastating consequences...
Be careful doctors, there are some crazy nurses out there with a short fuse. Don't stop the nurse's Ativan. I mean the patient's Ativan. I mean the nurse's Ativan... Nurse: Happy, Mr. Smith is driving me nuts. If you stop his Ativan, so help me God I'm going to kill you.


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