“I had no way of getting away from him”

Ingela D., Registered Nurse

SEIU Nurse Alliance of California, Camarillo, California, 7.31.14

I have been a nurse for 35 years and want to share just one of the several incidents of workplace violence I have experienced during that time.

I was working in ICU one day and one of my patients was a man in his mid-50s who had had a heart attack. He seemed like a very nice gentleman, looked healthy and fit. I gave him his breakfast and went to check on my other patients.

When I returned, this man looked completely different: his color was gone and he looked angry. I asked him what was wrong and if he felt okay. Before I knew it, he flew out of bed and ripped off his monitor and IV. He got in front of me and had a look on his face that told me if I moved he would kill me. I had never seen such anger before in my life.

I was stuck between the bed and the wall and I had no way of getting away from him, so I screamed bloody murder. The respiratory therapists came running in and tried to talk to the man and calm him down. We were lucky because just then, the man’s family arrived for a visit and they were able to calm him down and get him back into bed. They told me that my patient was a famous black belt in karate in his country!

That incident could have been prevented. I was by myself in the room and if someone had been watching the monitor, I wouldn’t have needed to resort to screaming for help. It took security ten minutes to respond and when they did, they were useless. We need security who can actually intervene. We need better assessments to know more about the patients we are taking care of. We need management to make changes when incidents like this happen to make sure they never happen again.

One Response to ““I had no way of getting away from him””

  1. Ginger Lent Osann says:

    I was working at a psychiatric center, I was writing in a chart at the nurses station when he walked up behind me and got me in a choke hold. I could not breath or make a sound. Another patient jumped over the counter I was working at. I thought he was going to help the other patient to kill me. The second patiet struggled with the first to rescue me. The first patient still choking me punched me in the head and I went unconscious. The staff removed the patient but did not come to my aid. The discussion among staff was anger about my going out and leaving them short staffed. The mimium staffing with 28 male patients many convicted murders and rapist was 2 including the RN. I’m an RN, I received 2 slipped disc. weakness on my left side. I’m in pain daily. I am no longer to preform the job that I loved. More staffing would protect staff and patients and safe money in the long run, by cutting down on compensation costs. My life will never be the same. I can no longer enjoy my hobbies


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