The issues of hospital safety and violence against nurses were in the news this week, on the heels of a frightening attack on several nurses at St. John’s Hospital in Minneapolis.
Charles Logan, a 68-year-old patient at St. John’s, removed a metal bar from the side of his hospital bed and used it as a weapon in the disturbing attack, which was caught on video. Logan barreled through a nurse’s station wielding the bar and chased several fleeing nurses through a security door and down the hall.
Logan was followed by patient Adam Linn, a security guard by trade who’d just had his appendix removed. Logan was eventually tackled in the street by police and died at the scene; the medical examiner is investigating the exact cause of his death.
Logan’s attack injured four nurses, also terrifying several others. What motivated the incident is unknown, however, an altercation earlier in the day involving Logan, his family, and his lawyer has been reported.
The Minnesota Nurse Association released a statement that read in part:
“Once again, nurses showed their dedication by responding to the emergency situation to help all the health care workers injured in the attack. Sadly, this incident is another act of patient on nurse violence that nurses and health care workers face every day. Only their training, education and courage prevented this sad situation from becoming worse.”
While the severity of this situation is definitely (and thankfully!) rare, attacks on nurses are sadly not. According to a survey from the International Healthcare Security and Safety Foundation, 60% of workplace assaults occur within healthcare facilities.
Barb Martin, who worked 46 years in nursing, told the Minnesota CBS affiliate that violence against healthcare workers is a persistent problem, and that many nurses report “being spit at, being hit, being shoved, being verbally abused.”
Despite the statistics, nurses certainly do not deserve any level of violence or mistreatment. Here are a few tactics that can help keep nurses safe on the job, based on findings from “Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses,” in a chapter devoted to “Personal Safety for Nurses”:
- Safe staffing levels
- Well-functioning hospital security
- Empathetic and proactive administration
The St. John’s video and story are sad on many counts, but we hope to see the issues of hospital safety and violence against nurses better addressed in the future. In the meantime, we know that nurses are a tough group of folks who will do everything they can to take care of themselves and their colleagues — in addition to their patients!