Workers Speak Out

“It took equipment to be damaged before any action was taken”

Smashed-computerAnonymous, Registered Nurse

County Rehabilitation Center, Downey, California, 5.5.15

We recently had a brain injury patient who also had psychiatric issues. He would just fly off and hit and kick anybody around him.

He hit two staff members in the face – one was wearing glasses, which were broken; both had black eyes as a result of the attack. The patient continued to have violent outbursts. He hit and hurt several other staff members, including me. He punched me in the stomach. (more…)

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“The man was later arrested for assault and murder”

gty_domestic_violence_ll_131104_16x9_992Lisa T., Supervising Nurse 

County Hospital, Prunedale, California, 5.4.15

We had numerous reports about verbal and physical abuse by the husband of one of our patients. The woman’s family reported and our staff – including me – witnessed the verbal threats and pushing. I reported to security and Social Services and was told that we were “causing the problems and encouraging the escalation.”

On the day of our patient’s discharge, my staff member called me to review the discharge instructions with the patient and her husband. The husband continued his verbal abuse and then personally threatened me. I called for a security standby and as we were escorting the man off the unit, he proceeded to strike me repeatedly in the back with their baby’s large car seat. (more…)

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“It’s just getting worse and worse”

stoptheviolenceRisha K., Registered Nurse

Private Behavioral Health Center, Highland, California, 11.11.14

We have a lot of violent offenders from either county prisons or state hospitals that step down into our type of facility, which is a locked behavioral health center.

We’ve had a nurse attacked by a resident at the facility. She was kicked and had her head stomped into the linoleum floor. She now suffers from seizure disorder. We’ve had residents stab staff members in the face and neck with pencils. We’ve had a resident who struck twelve people on different occasions over a two-week period of time before he was removed from the facility. (more…)

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“There is no post-trauma policy for the staff”

Row of Jail CellsRita L., Registered Nurse

State Prison, San Quentin, California, 5.6.14

A colleague of mine was working on the infirmary floor at the prison. Keep in mind: many of the condemned prisoners feel like they have nothing to lose and some have vowed to attempt to injure anyone, given the opportunity. She went inside an inmate’s cell to administer insulin and the correctional officer locked the cell door in error while the nurse was in the room. Minutes elapsed before custody heard her calls for help. (more…)

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“I screamed, but there was no guard present”

NormaNorma G., Registered Nurse

County Jail, Bakersfield, California, 11.8.14

One early morning, I saw a female inmate who complained of a severe athlete’s foot/ toenail fungal infection. I could only do so much for her until a doctor became available to order a prescription. When told about her treatment, she became angry.

As the patient was leaving the clinic room, she grabbed a plastic chair, swung it, and threw it at me. It was a good thing I was looking. I caught the chair before it hit me.

I screamed, but there was no guard present because he had gone next door to log his suicide watch cells.

The patient left the clinic and went outside, sat down on a bench with the other waiting inmates, and they all started laughing. My supervisor’s response was, “You lost your patience and professional ability to handle the problem.”

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“We need to do a better job protecting those who care for patients”

BrandonBrandon D., Eligibility Worker

City Health Clinic, San Francisco, California, 11.13.14

I work at a health clinic where we serve the underserved, like the homeless and transgender community. Under the umbrella of our clinic, we have nurses working in SROs, hotels, shelters, and healthcare workers engaging in street outreach.

Our clinic is located in the Tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco where there is a high percentage of violent crime, robbery, assault, battery, shootings, and a few murders. Our clinic sits in that same neighborhood where workers witness open drug use, drug sales, assaults, and shootings. (more…)

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“The hospital’s security was present and did not intervene”

Anonymous, Registered Nurse

Private Hospital, Riverside, California, 9.2.14

A patient in the hospital’s Emergency Room became verbally abusive toward the Registered Nurse assigned to him. The patient grew increasingly agitated and attempted to leave. The nurse and the charge nurse followed the patient toward the exit doors. The charge nurse got on his cell phone to call the local police department when the patient suddenly turned back, grabbed the cell phone, and twisted the charge nurse’s arm. The other nurse intervened and brought the patient to the floor to calm and restrain him. The hospital’s security was present and did not intervene. (more…)

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“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. (more…)

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“Workplace violence is not acceptable”

Kathy H., Registered Nurse

SEIU Local 121RN, Pasadena, California, 7.22.14

I am a Registered Nurse and co-lead on the California Safe Care Standard campaign. Right before we launched the campaign to educate, mobilize, and organize around getting the Cal/OSHA Standards Board to accept our petition to promulgate a comprehensive workplace violence prevention standard for healthcare workers, someone asked me, “Have you ever been a victim of workplace violence?” I replied, “No.” “You’ve never been kicked, bitten, lashed out at, anything like that?” “Well, yeah, of course,” I said, and then it finally hit home.  (more…)

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“It was an extremely scary situation”

Anonymous, Registered Nurse

Private Hospital, Tarzana, California, 7.22.14

I work in a hospital in the Los Angeles area. I want to share an incident that happened about a year ago at my facility. Although no one was hurt – thankfully – it was an extremely scary situation.

A man came to the hospital every day for nearly a month to visit his sick family member. Every day, he walked into the facility with a visible 8-inch knife hanging from his belt. He was never stopped by security and the facility has no metal detectors. (more…)

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